Peter Facey, Director of Unlock Democracy, recently gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Lords Reform to make the case for an elected second chamber.
In a recent blog post Peter said:
We’ve outlined our argument in the written evidence (pdf) we sent to the committee. The House of Lords is, first and foremost, a political chamber and makes political decisions. Those decisions should be ultimately accountable to the people, not to party leaders. The arguments for the status quo are extremely flawed: Just 46% of crossbenchers can be considered current experts in their field – 11% of the chamber as a whole.
Sheffield for Democracy is campaigning locally for a fully elected House of Lords and has recently delivered a petition signed by local people to local MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is responsible for constitutional reform. We believe that now is a real chance to deliver the fully democratically elected parliament which was promised over 100 years ago in the Parliament Act 1911. All three major parties promised Lords reforms in their 2010 manifestos and we must campaign to make sure that they keep to those commitments.
The committee’s report makes over 20 recommendations for changes to the Coalition Government’s proposals including:
- A legal duty on people to register, as happens in Northern Ireland, reviewed after 5 years “by which time levels of registration may be high enough.. for compulsion no longer to be necessary”;
- A full household canvas should be held in 2014 to avoid missing “an unacceptably large number of potential electors”.
- The boundary review for the 2020 election should be based on the register in place at the 2015 election instead of how they stand in December 2015.
We welcome the Committee’s report and hope the government will heed their recommendations to avoid what is feared could be as many as 10 million people dropping off the electoral register when the switch is made to IER.
- Democratic Audit: Select Committee shows way forward on voter registration
- Electoral Reform Society: Voter Registration – We’re Winning
Sheffield City Council’s 28 wards are divided into 7 Community Assemblies (4 wards per assembly) which “aim to bring decision-making closer to local people”. Each assembly has a budget to spend on local projects and things like road improvements. The decisions of the assemblies are made by the 12 Councillors from its constituent wards based on reports drawn up by Council Officers and submissions made by the public.
The new Labour administration in Sheffield are currently conducting an internal review of the future of community assemblies. We believe no decision can legitimately be made about their future without consulting the people whom the assemblies are meant to serve.
We are therefore launching our own consultation to find out what you think so that we can put a proposal about the future of community assemblies to Sheffield City Council to make sure that local people have a proper say in any changes.
What do you think about the community assemblies? Have you ever been to one? Have they made much of a difference in your area? Do they meet too often or not often enough? How do you think community assemblies could be improved? Please let us know by leaving a comment below or emailing email@example.com.