The Sunday Telegraph claims Jack Straw is planning to announce draft legislation for the abolition of the House of Lords. The proposals seem in line with previous Labour announcements of reform with the chamber to become a 300 member wholly elected body.
The focus of discussion will be increasing the accountability of the second house to the electorate but is there an opportunity to restore some balance to the British constitution? Blair's reforms deliberately ignored the West Lothian question but it needs an answer. It is a question that Ulster's Unionists should be particularly concerned about as equal citizenship was a founding principle of modern Unionism in the 1912 Covenant.
Fully fledged federalism does offer an answer but the public is unenthused despite its reasonable success in comparable countries such as Australia and Canada. Partly connected to federalism is the idea of an English parliament but it's potential to bully the national parliament means it would threaten the principle of equal citizenship as much as present arrangements.
However, could reform of the second chamber be a means of empowering England without undermining equal citizenship? Could it also inject the need to balance regional interests with national interests more directly than at present (as the American system does with the House of Representatives and Senate? Namely should this seats in the new chamber be distributed equally between the 9 regions of England and the other three constituent parts of the United Kingdom?
This would mean approximately 25 representatives each. Would this enable stronger regional voices to emerge or would the strength of the party system be able to maintain its dominance?