New senate to replace Lords should include quota of Scots, says Foulkes
A SENATE of representatives from the Scottish Parliament and other parts of the UK should replace the House of Lords and have powers to review and delay laws made by Holyrood, says a senior Labour peer.
Former UK minister and MSP Lord Foulkes wants the Lords to be scrapped and for each devolved parliament or assembly to send its own appointed representatives to a new second chamber in London.
The proposed reform would allow the new body to review and delay Scottish laws for up to a year – along similar lines to the delaying powers the Lords currently has over the Commons.
Lord Foulkes made the call ahead of the UK Labour conference in Manchester next week and said he had submitted the demand – as part of a proposed wider shake-up of the Commons and Lords – to a policy review ordered by party leader Ed Miliband.
The peer insists that his Lords reform proposal could help resolve the West Lothian question – the anomaly that Scottish MPs can vote on matters such as health or education that affect England, but English MPs cannot vote on similar matters for Scotland because they are devolved powers.
Lord Foulkes said that Scotland would be able to have up to 45 representatives in a senate of several hundred members. He added that the body should be made up of appointed politicians, including MSPs.
“If the House of Lords was directly elected, it could challenge the House of Commons, but it would still have legitimacy if it was chosen by the elected bodies,” said Lord Foulkes.
“I would argue that Holyrood and the other assemblies should be given the power to appoint rather than to directly elect members.
“We need to have a second chamber that’s representative of the regions and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“It would be a better way of governing the UK and ensuring that Scotland has a bigger say in UK affairs through the second chamber.” The Labour peer said the move “could help deal with the West Lothian question” as the Commons and local councils in England could also appoint members to the senate.
However, SNP MSP John Wilson warned that the move would “undermine” the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Wilson said the senate proposal would “overburden” Holyrood’s work as well as that of the Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies.
He said: “The idea that a senate-style second chamber could be established involving members of elected assemblies and parliaments would undermine the democratic process of these assemblies and parliaments.
“The sooner we move towards eradicating a second chamber based on patronage and inherited peers, the better.”
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