. The Only Way Is Ethics: A Crash Course in Six Parts | London Progressive Journal
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The Only Way Is Ethics: A Crash Course in Six Parts

Sun 4th Sep 2016

Part Two: Oh My Lords!

Few topics have proved as appropriate in this context as reform the House of Lords [HoL]. Hop on the 148 bus- we're heading to Parliament Square. For decades the media and vested interest politicos have rehearsed the apparently unresolvable dilemma of that pesky second chamber.

Given the recent declaration to fork out some serious billions on repairing the dilapidated fabric of Parliament, such a reform might take advantage of the re-construction shake-up.

Sadly, the national press - even the more enlightened ones - as well as commercial networks and the Beeb, all either collude or deliberately ignore the widest range of possibilities for HoL reform. Instead the predictable focus highlights Elected or Appointed? Bor-ring!

When such an important debate is consistently presented in terms that cannot be resolved except by dictat, democracy flounders and people once again feel impotent and excluded. That just ain't ethical.

Historically, of course, the populace at large wasn't encouraged to consider such matters at all, concluding they were intellectually incapable or just plain not interested. Which is rubbish! Given a chance, people care passionately about what makes their society tick, however much the media has tried to divert them with TV dancers flashing their knicks and people chasing balls around.

However, here's a thought - and I'm not saying it's the only one, and I'm not the only one saying it. But.

Put yourself in a box and try to think outside it.

1. First - what are we trying to achieve with reform? The very word implies that an entity [the HoL] can be reshaped into a very different entity. What exactly requires change: its size, its more equitable representation of gender, age, faith or ethnicity, political affiliation, or socio-economic class? All of the above or some combo?

2. Can HoL reform assure more popular involvement in the political process? Can it make people feel they can contribute to the governance of the nation by calling to question the executive powers of the Commons? In that context, can the HoL be sited in different locations throughout the nation, a moveable feast of justice?

3. Should membership of the HoL be time delimited? Should a serving term be for life or can system reform devise a way to offer political scrutiny to a wider section of the electorate within a realistic time frame?

Now, consider the model of the UK's jury system, and please consider it in an ethical context. Who doesn't agree, albeit not faultless, it has consistently produced social equality against a historical background of assuming innocence until otherwise proven? These ethical results, though guided by judges well versed in the law and aided by various experts relevant to any case, are in the gift of a randomly chosen jury of peers. They're honour bound to assess impartially all the evidence presented by both prosecution and defense, before reaching an agreement which directly changes lives.

That's a huge responsibility, but even more, it's a privilege. Seems to me it's been working out pretty well. A brand leader, you might say. Surely it's worth probing whether such a template - copied and admired the world over - might equally be applied to HoL Reform.

Such a debate must never be predicated on the argument that "it would never work." Instead, its prima facie position needs to be "how can we make it work?"
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