Oliver Heald is the MP for North-East Hertfordshire and a former Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs
I served as a member of the 2007 Parliamentary Cross-Party Working Group convened by Lord Falconer and Jack Straw MP to consider House of Lords reform. More recently I have been a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill. I was one of the 12 signatories of yesterday’s Alternative Report as I did not feel that the Joint Committee’s report considered one of the most important questions – what is the best system for elected members to be elected.
The Draft Bill spoke only of direct elections on the basis of regional areas. In my view this system is flawed. Yesterday I published a pamphlet for the Society of Conservative Lawyers arguing that direct regional elections would -
• Jeopardise the Government’s ability to govern effectively;
• Weaken the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament;
• Blur the clarity of the constituency link between MPs and their constituents and lead to conflicts at local level;
• Reduce the quality and extent of the pool of talent available for the Second Chamber;
• Increase election costs and the complexity of the voting system and
• Increase the costs of running the Second Chamber.