Senate reform: speak of the devil…

No sooner do I make my post on Senate reform than articles appear about it too! Not sure who posted first, but either way, we live in exciting times.

But it’s definitely the case that in both the United Kingdom and Canada, the reform efforts are hitting the inertial power of the status quo and the inherent weaknesses of having to argue for a solution rather than against a problem.

If reform fails, I would expect pressure to make what Lord Steel calls ‘running repairs’ to the upper chambers. In the UK, this has coalesced around the Alternative Report and the Steel and Hayman reforms involving removing patronage and hereditary peers, kicking out criminals and allowing retirement while starting a constitutional convention to consider the role of the upper house. This is seen as easier to implement than the government proposals. As yet, I don’t know of any alternative plan to reform the Canadian senate to make it workable in the short-to-medium term.

There have been some proposals around a Senate Appointments Commission like our Lords version, but I don’t think opposition to reform has coalesced around it like ours has. Maybe I’ve just missed it. Google awaits…

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