I got an email from "Unlock Democracy" asking for my views on the House of Lords reforms.
There are two parts to it. The first involves answering a few questions about how you think the Lords should be. The second is an "in your own words" comment. This is what I put on the form.
"In the 21st century, it seems to me that it is laughable that a country which is prepared to go to war to promote democracy has a House of Lords.
That 90+ members of that house should comprise of hereditary peers is beyond understanding.
"Far too many peers have been sent from the Commons as reward for faithful service to party.Once upon a time the PM and maybe the Foreign Secretary were put upstairs, now it's junior ministers at the Environment Dept, et al.
"Each time the colour of the commons changes the balance has to be redressed, meaning that we now have some 900 peers. It's the largest house in the world next to the Chinese People's Assembly.
"There should be no bishops of the English church in the Lords. Quite apart from the fact that there are people of all religions and none in the country, the English Church could never have been said to represent Scotland, Ireland or Wales, nor the Roman Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, etc, etc....
"We need a senate like any other small western democracy. There should be no titles, and people mustn't be allowed to think that once elected the job is theirs for fifteen years.
They should have to be re-elected every 5 years on a rotating system. There need be no more than 100, unless they are working constituency MSs, which I don’t think they should be.
"Those who currently hold the title and sit in the lords should be given notice in advance that the gravy train of £300+ a day stops here and they should dismount. They should be allowed to keep their ridiculous titles if they wish, but people who go to the Senate, should be Mr and Mrs like the rest of us. For hereditaries, titles should die with the current holder. You cannot promote equality in the country when people are calling themselves Earl or Marquis and demanding that others refer to them as Your Grace or Your Lordship.
"The salary should be smaller than that of an MP. They will do little or no constituency work; I see no reason to pay them for what they do not do.
"Of course one excellent idea would be to simply get rid of them altogether. What was it they are supposed to do?
"In Scotland we have no second house, but we have far better legislation without it being scrutinised by "experts".
"Please can we stop having a privileged class with titles at the top?"
Incidentally, as I was filling in the questionnaire, I was thinking about our friend Lord Hanningfield, who apparently was (according to the judge) given a lenient sentence because he was suffering from clinical depression and was in frail health (brought on by being caught). He would find prison according to the judge, more distressing and depressing than other people.
So, then they let the clinically depressed Lord out VERY early.
He's obviously feeling a good deal better as he strolls round his village with his dog... or he was until he was re-arrested; this time for defrauding the county council which he led, as the same time as being a thieving git up in Wastemonster. And although he's out on licence for one crime, he has been bailed to appear in court, instead of being bundled straight back to the pokey.
You couldn't make these characters up, even if you were capable of dreaming up characters like Voldermort.