|Having the House of Lords is an invaluable check to the rubber-stamping that all too often recent governments have allowed to blight the name of democracy. It is not infallible, but neither is any nation, any population, and therefore any form of democracy. But the lack of accountability to voters and to party whips (especially in the case of the cross-benchers) is, paradoxically to my mind, truly invaluable, and this was all the more the case when Labour first came to power with a (deserved, it seemed at the time, but nonetheless) nearly tinpot dictatorship-style majority, their ranks swelled by Tony's groupies. The existence of the House of Lords could not be dreamed up by a madman, could not be justified in its odd spectrum of ex-civil servants, politicos, cronies etc, yet serves intriguing practical functions.|
I agree with some of the above comments that the House of Lords should change in format a bit, but to reflect the interests that it protects. There should be experts, as suggested above, maybe a chunk of normals, representatives of business and of religion and even specialist interests. And they should be left to vote as they please, answerable to their own consciences, a system that again depends on the user but overall seems to work in watering down or halting over-enthusiastic legislation. Maybe a small portion should be rotated, maybe there should at least be an age-limit, but one that does not exclude some of the learned and experience-worn old duffers who actually have something to contribute to society despite being beyond the age of retirement for some companies etc.
It was interesting to find that Labour peers have often, once elevated to the Lords, ignored their whips and provided some of the most pointed, vociferous and (from certain perspectives) useful contributions to debates on government legislation. It is a shame that sometimes the more rabid ones make better press, but as was reflected in the recent debate on the attempt to overturn the anti-discrimination bill, they are thankfully often more vociferous than numerous.