THE BLOG
27/10/2015 13:54 GMT | Updated 27/10/2016 06:12 BST

Now the PM Can Deal With His 'Regret' Over Lack of Lords Reform

The public won't settle for half-way house Lords reform. If the government is serious about dealing with the 'constitutional crisis' our democracy is in, they should ensure the public get a say at last in who represents us in the upper chamber.

Well, it looks like House of Lords reform is back on the table.

In case you missed it, last night the government were defeated on two key votes over cuts to tax credits in the House of Lords.

Pretty much immediately after, the Prime Minister said there would be a 'rapid review' of the House of Lords in the wake of the vote.

It's an interesting development, in part because the Prime Minister said over the summer that he 'regrets' not reforming the House of Lords in the last Parliament. After yesterday's vote he must be regretting that mistake more than ever...and thankfully, it's not too late.

Obviously the now-promised 'review' on the role of the Lords should have been done long ago. But a review can't simply mean tinkering around the edges or packing the second chamber with yet more donors and ex-politicians, at a cost of over £2.6million per year in expenses and allowances - and that's before the extra office and staffing costs are taken into account. The government has appointed Peers at the fastest rate in history into what is an already-bloated chamber.

Reform has to mean root and branch reform of the unelected upper chamber - not based on partisan interest, but because it's wrong in a modern democracy for our legislators to be unelected.

We have a crisis of democracy in this country - a government handed a majority on just 37% of the vote, and on the other side a house with too many political hacks and cronies. Two wrongs don't make a right, and two democratically-dubious chambers look pretty ridiculous shouting about each others' alleged illegitimacy.

Now's the time for looking at both Houses to deal with the democratic deficit in Britain - an unfair and out-of-date voting system in the Commons, and an expensive and archaic set-up in the Lords.

Interestingly, Chancellor George Osborne made a statement in the House of Commons today that could show we're heading in the right direction. He said: "My view is clear: we need an elected House of Lords." A "but..." then followed - but it's encouraging nonetheless, ahead of today's announcement by the government on possible reform. Was it a hint?

Whatever happens, the public won't settle for half-way house Lords reform. If the government is serious about dealing with the 'constitutional crisis' our democracy is in, they should ensure the public get a say at last in who represents us in the upper chamber.

For more of the ERS' research on the House of Lords, see our recent report, "The House of Lords: Fact vs Fiction". A briefing on it with the main stats is available here.