Wednesday, October 25, 2006

House of Lords reform - winds in the Straw

I don't believe that this is about anything other than electing Straw as deputy leader.

We need to start with a clear decision by the Commons as to what the role of the Lords is to be - is it to have a representative function? If so, then it (a) must be substantially elected and (b) will challenge the Commons and (c) will become party political. Personally, this is the route that I favour - we need a much stronger and more active legislature. If the Lords has no representative function, then election has to be justified as the best way of fulfilling the Lords' other functions - and I have yet to be shown how that could work.

In a Lords (Senate would be better) without representative functions, but needing a concentration of expertise and experience, appointment works. Mostly appointment by the elected, though. It keeps the Lords illegitimate, and allows the Commons undoubted primacy. We could then have party strengths in proportion to votes, quality checks on candidates, a proper balance of race, religion, gender and region - and still do a damn good job.

Faith schools - the fog of war

Lots of smoke being made by the Roman Catholic church over the government's proposals for new faith schools to admit 25% of other creeds or none. Mostly, I feel, to hide the fact that they will not address the real issues:

- are RC schools divisive? Saying that RCs have within themselves a wide variety of racial origins and economic status is not an answer.

- why should paying 10% of the cost give them total control over admissions?

- either allowing the irreligious in is a disaster - and then why do they allow this in so many RC schools - or it's OK - and why are they so upset about making this the rule for new schools?