Sortition for the House of Lords

Andrew Lilco of the influentual website Conservative Home is currently proposing sortition for the reformed House of Lords:

I propose that half the members (300) should be selected randomly.  It would be better if randomly-selected members knew their random selection from an early enough date to prepare for the role.  Thus I would prefer hereditary – probably with new hereditary families.  But I suspect that would be so controversial as to derail the whole scheme, and it is more important that there be random membership than whether people are prepared.  So I propose that half the members be selected by lot, as with jury service.  If you are selected for Second Chamber service, you must serve there for six months.  I suggest that there is overlapping turnover – so, each month one sixth of the membership leaves to be replace by a new set.  Hopefully, after a while people would see the benefits of expertise, responsibility and obligation being bred from an early stage, and so hereditary would once again be feasible.  But a jury-style (or Athenian-style) component to the chamber would be a good base.

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4 Responses

  1. Can anyone tell me why heredity is a good thing?

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  2. We had a long debate about this on another thread, when Greg pointed out that the problem with sortition (along with all forms of democracy) is that there is no obvious way of ensuring that the interests of future generations are protected.

    Burkean conservatives view society as a “contract between the past, the present and those yet unborn”, and one of the ways of ensuring this long perspective is what economists like Hoppe refer to as the “freehold” interest. The argument is derived from sociobiology and is to do with the innate human desire to ensure the welfare of one’s own offspring. If the monarch has a “freehold” interest then there is a tendency to look to the long future as it will be in the interests of her own children. One might point to Prince Charles’s environmental and ecological views as bearing out this perspective.

    Most democrats are uncomfortable with this sort of argument, but I think that it’s then incumbent on sortition advocates to come up with some alternative method to ensure that the Burkean compact is observed.

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  3. Robin,

    If the idea that a hereditary monarch would take better care of the interests of your children’s children than you would appears laughable to you, you are not alone.

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  4. Presumably the implication is that a sortive assembly would not privilege immediate benefit over long-term sustainability. That’s an interesting hypothesis, and it would be good to put it to the test — certainly the implication of the earlier thread (that caused Greg to leave the forum as he felt his case was not being treated seriously) was that there was no evidence available to support the claim. Greg’s departure was spurred on by comments such as “laughable”; I do think it’s wise to treat people with different views from your own seriously — if you want to lOl you can always pinch yourself first.

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