The 'Tory' House of Lords only comes alive during Labour governments. They have opposed this government over 400 times since 1997, and the government rather than lose parliamentary time have given concessions on 40% of bills. Some of the ammendments like the ones for the Religious and Racial hatred bill were a good thing, but it's a shame the House of Lords didn't show the same level of concern about the Poll Tax or the abolition of local government that the Tories inflicted on us when in power.
The Lords priorities are clear, shown by where the Parliament Act has had to be used; they are pro-hunting, protected Nazi war criminals, and opposed gay rights and other minority rights. These are not the priorities of the electorate and the way to correct this is an elected chamber. To avoid challenging the supremacy of the Commons, the Lords has to be elected in a different way.
Firstly the Commons should be elected in the most democratic way possible and that is an 'open' list PR system like the one proposed by Hansard in 1976.
There would be 320 constituencies electing 640 MPs. Voters have only one vote (like at present) electing 320 MPs by FPTP and the ‘additional’ 320 seats are awarded to the parties’ best losers in the constituencies (the number of MPs each party gets is determined by their share of the national vote). All MPs would be tied to a constituency, the link would be stronger and we would have a totally proportional system so people can vote for who they like.
Secondly the best aspect of the Lords needs to be preserved, and that is the expert knowledge of some of the members and the longevity in the house. I would propose that half of the members are elected in 'vocational constituencies' for 3 parliamentary terms (15 years) in proportion to the number of the population in each particular occupation. The other half would be selected by a national lottery again serving for 3 parliamentary terms.
The one good thing about the 'loans for peerages' scandal is that it has got party funding and House of Lords reform onto the agenda.
Nobody wants automatic compulsory state funding. Not many realise that we already do have this in the form of the 'Short funding' and that the biggest recipients are the Conservative Party. I think this should be scrapped.
But to combat rich individuals and big organisations having undue influence on policy, we need to cap donations and I do think we should have state funding (but voluntary) decided by the individual on the ballot paper by specifically having to tick a box of the local party they want funding to go to. If they don't tick any box, no party gets any money - simple. Political parties would have to 'earn' their money by getting higher turnouts at elections and persuading people they were worth state funding. The system we have at present and the system being proposed by the Tories would be the worst of all worlds.
The present system is a stitch up between the main parties, with the bulk of funding going to Labour and the Tories, smaller parties don't get a look in.
The Tory proposals wouldn't be so bad if we had a democratic electoral system. They propose compulsory state funding based on vote share (of course skewed in the big parties favour by the electoral system) and only if a party wins 2 seats. This conveniently means no independent or small party will get any funding. A hopelessly and purposely biased system. The Tories also propose setting the cap on individual donations the same as the cap on organisational donations. A deliberate and partial policy to limit trade unions and strengthen the importance of rich individuals. The final Tory proposal is to reduce the number of MPs, this is nothing to do with party funding, but just a sneaky way of gerrymandering boundaries back in their favour.
The only party that has done anything to clean up the system (made a start on House of Lords reform and made donations transparent) is ironically the party the press accuse of being the most sleazy - The Labour Party. They are also the only party that will continue to improve things.