21 February, 2024

Labour indicates intention to use citizens’ assemblies to address assisted dying and House of Lords Reform

Sortition Foundation welcomes reports of senior Labour figures indicating their intention to use citizens’ assemblies to help enhance democracy by engaging people from around the UK on major constitutional reforms and other important issues. 

The reports stem from an interview with Keir Starmer’s chief of staff Sue Gray for a biography of the Labour leader by journalist and former Labour Party senior adviser Tom Baldwin. Gray said that the plans would help build support for reforms “by involving communities at an early stage”

When asked about citizens' assemblies, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Wes Streeting said his party is looking at "a whole range of ways" to try to engage people in the political process. He referenced "a real shortage of trust", and added: "I think we've got to look at how we can reconnect democracy with the public."

While Sue Gray said the assemblies could be used to get agreement on assisted dying laws and House of Lords reform. We believe that this is a great step along the path to revitalising trust in our politics. Further along this road we believe the House of Lords itself should replaced by a permanent rolling House of Citizens. This chamber would help restore trust by giving a representative group of people, selected a bit like a jury, the power to hold politicians to account and make sure laws are sensible and fair.

Juries have been a part of the UK constitution since Henry II codified them into English law in 1166, so after 858 years of seeing how well ordinary people can be trusted with big decisions, we hope that politicians apply this principle to reforming an embarrassing hangover of our feudal past, the House of Lords.

Read the reports:

The Times: Sue Gray announces citizen juries that will bypass Whitehall

Sortition Foundation letter in The Times: Labour blueprint for citizens’ assemblies


BBC: Citizens' assemblies could propose assisted dying laws, says Labour 

Civil Service World: Labour would introduce citizens' assemblies, Sue Gray says

Politics.co.uk: The politics behind Sue Gray’s plan for ‘citizens’ assemblies’



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