David Stevenson (Letters, 4 August) argues against the House of Lords, which is a common position, despite them not being subject to political control and being stuffed with people whose life experience is the equivalent of the “Witan” of wise men who counselled in Anglo-Saxon days. In my view, it is a valuable reviewing body.
However, at this point, he says he does not want “a House of Lords in an independent Scotland”. What independent Scotland? Did he miss the referendum last year in which independence was rejected by a considerable majority? As there seem to be others who are dwelling in cloud-cuckoo land on this topic, perhaps they need to be reminded that, on many, many occasions, both Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon made it plain that the referendum was a “once in a generation” if not a “once in a lifetime” event. Not only that, because memories can be short, especially in SNP circles, but they both signed the Edinburgh Agreement. As the wording is quite precise, allow me to quote it. It stated that the referendum would “deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect”. Indeed, it is still on the Scottish “Government” website, described as the “historic Edinburgh agreement”! By signing that agreement, all signatories effectively gave their oath that what it stated was that the result would be respected. Does the website tell a lie, or is it “historic” and to be respected? If the results of the agreement are rejected, it shows that neither Sturgeon’s, nor Salmond’s word is to be trusted. Is that what Mr Stevenson is suggesting?
Andrew HN Gray
In the renewed debate about whether a House of Lords is justified and about benefits of having a second chamber to keep tabs on the primary one, there could be an omission of understanding. There is always present in a free secret voting society a second chamber – the electorate.
There is no need for a further body of grandees or specialists or pillars of society or any such. The electorate, the people, constitute that overseeing body. Even the letters pages of newspapers such as The Scotsman demonstrate how overseeing the electorate is, likely prompter, as sharp as, as articulate as, and with the power to effect change every bit as much as, for example, The House of Lords, which few will think of as being in any way connected with change.
Nor can the electorate be accused of being unelected since it is it that elects in the first place. The electorate is in itself near enough the definition of democracy. Once you justify having a building where a second body can scrutinise a first body, then you open the case for a third building with a third body etc. The electorate is, first and foremost, the main body, and no special building is required for it other than the primary elected chamber.