Following the recent vote in the House of Commons, that the House of Lords be 100% elected, Nick Barlow has proposed that they be elected by STV. He notes that one proposal is that lords be elected at the same time as the European election, with a third of the lords being elected each time, thus each lord on election would serve for a term of 15 years. Consequently, if there are to be 300 elected lords, then 100 will be elected at each election. Since the election of the lords would happen at the same time as the European election, it make sense to use the same electoral regions for both elections.
Barlow also proposes that smaller electoral regions should be allocated more representatives than they would from strict proportionality, in order to ensure “a balance of voices from throughout the UK”.
I agree with this; however, how a representative thinks and votes is far more important than what part of the country they come from. So if we want diversity, we should make diversity of views more important than diversity of regions. I therefore propose that lords be elected by a modified version of STV, as follows:
1. 90% of representatives to be elected by STV. (In this case 90 representatives)
2. the other 10% of representatives to be elected by top-up.
3. each candidate would belong to an electoral list. Typically all the candidates of a party would belong to the same electoral list, but there would be nothing to prevent one party running multiple lists, or several parties running a joint list. If a candidate isn’t on an electoral list, they are deemed to be on a list containing just themselves.
4. The 90 STV representatives are elected according to the normal rules for STV.
5. The number of top-up seats for each electoral list is determined. This is done by counting how many 1st-preference votes each list got and how many representatives they got elected by STV. The top-up seats are allocated according to the D’Hondt method so that the total number of seats each list gets (both STV and top-up) is proportional to that list’s 1st-preference votes.
6. Once we know how many top-up seats each list gets, we can determine with candidates are elected by top-up. These are the candidates for that list with the highest number of first-preference votes who were not elected by STV.
This electoral system combines the benefits of STV (representatives have a local link and are chosen by the voters, not the party hierarchy) with those of a national list system (maximum proportionality), and would ensure that any belief-system that commands the support of 1% of the electorate would get represented in the Lords. Because of the diversity of viewpoints elected, this would minimise the feeling of disenfranchisement that voters get if no-one they support is elected.