I’m sure this is an idea that’s had an airing before and indeed when I mentioned it to my co-editors here, Comrade Aidan mentioned something apparently similar from Mark Thomas (who I think is a ninny, which drew all manner of opprobrium from BN Comrades plural).

Anyway, I was in the pub, as you do on a Saturday lunchtime and, again, as you do, I was chatting about what one could realistically do about the House of Lords to make it a better place.

My first suggestion was to call it the House of Ladies every other year. Isn’t it about time the gender assumption was turned on its head? Apparently I wasn’t thinking big enough.

Despite the widely perceived nonsensicality around the House of Lords, one must remember that to do nothing might actually be the best course of action. On the one hand you have unelected peers debating policies with the public having no means of recourse to challenge their discussions but on the other hand you have a lot of largely intelligent people providing reasonably objective reviews of legislation for relatively little expense. It is arguably difficult to improve upon that. I mean, does anyone believe that Baroness Williams getting stuck into this NHS Bill is a bad thing?

However, there is a flip side, of course. For one, the idea that Lord Sugar should be a peer for life because Gordon Brown wanted him to be a Business Tsar for four months is bonkers, as is the idea that bishops and landed gentry get a seat in the Lords by dint of their job or birthright, not to mention the unseemly act of PM after PM filling the chamber with as many of their party members as they can get away with.

The House of Lords currently has just shy of 800 members and I, at best, could name a handful of them, which is probably more than the vast majority of people in this country could manage. That is not a healthy state of affairs for any democracy so how can it change for the better? Let’s firstly rule some options out.

A House of Lords that is a pale imitation of the House of Commons would not realistically be fit for purpose. Is there a point in having an elected second chamber that would nod through legislation if it consisted of those from the same party as those in Government, and knock legislation back if it didn’t? I suspect most people out there don’t just want more of the same knockabout Punch and Judy politics.

The other extreme is to have a House of Lords full of independents, full of the heads of science and economics and literature and philosophy, all worthily discussing legislation before them and passing their honest, considered views before taking a vote. It’d be like BBC4 does UK Politics, a tantalising prospect but a bloody nightmare when you start to wonder about the specifics of who, what, when and why these people would be selected.

Something doesn’t necessarily need to be done but improvement is surely within our reach.

There is a worrying, and widening, democratic deficit in the UK right now. Elections went from being typically every four years to fixed every five years without people batting an eyelid, if they even knew it had happened in the first place. Are we happy about this? Who the hell knows.

There is a pressing need for the public to be more immersed in the politics that exists in this country, avoiding the artificial line between politics and normal life that makes the former tantamount to showbusiness for ugly not-as-beautiful-as-celebrities people. I just want people to be interested and if they aren’t interested then perhaps it is best to force them to be, even just a little.

My preferred type of House of Lords reform therefore is quickly becoming a form of jury duty where 800 or so people are selected at random from the UK public and serve for six months or a year, followed by another tranche of 800 people and another tranche and so on. There would be permanent staff at the House of Lords that would simplify legislation and provide the legal support but the revising of the output of the House of Commons would be strictly for the 800 to decide. It’d be like a more honourable Big Brother where the public takes on direct responsibility for part of the UK’s future by being the very ones that have to take the decisions of what should and shouldn’t pass in our name. I’d certainly prefer the public being involved in legislation on an ongoing basis rather than being asked (and, let’s face it, lied to) by politicians twice a decade.

My hope would be that a natural filter for bampottery and inappropriateness would apply whereby anyone unsuitable for the job would elect not to take part if they were selected, but those who did serve in the House of Lords would be paid the same salary, wage or welfare as they would ordinarily. It’s Big Society and the work experience scheme rolled into one. How couldn’t David Cameron sign up to it?

You may well disagree but I see very few faults with this proposal and I believe it would be a marked improvement on the status quo, and not only because the old leftie deep inside me would thoroughly enjoy seeing Lords inhabitants being turfed off their red leather seats and into the cold.

Could Joe Public do a better job in the House of Lords than Lord Blah Blah? It’s debatable but perhaps more to the point, who would dare suggest otherwise?