Good government requires that the making of laws and policies be responsive to the needs of the people
Originally published on 26 August 26 2011 for The Times. By Nigel Biggar.
Sir, When Philip Ridd (letter, Aug 24) claims that Britain is not a “true democracy”, because the House of Lords is not elected, he assumes that good government is wholly democratic. That is not so. Good government requires that the making of laws and policies be responsive to the needs of the people. This is already secured by general elections to the predominant House of Commons.
But good government also requires that laws and policies be scrutinised and interrogated by free-thinking people possessed of deep expertise and broad experience. This is something that popular elections cannot secure. If democracy is vital to the health of our political life, then so is an aristocracy of wisdom. Therefore we need an upper house that is entirely appointed by a politically independent commission.
Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Christ Church, Oxford