A single assembly is liable to all the vices, follies and frailties of an individual. Subject to fits of humour, starts of passion, flights of enthusiasm, partialities of prejudice, and consequently productive of hasty results and absurd judgments.

—John Adams. Thoughts on Government, April 1776.

Having two legislative houses hinders the passage of ill-considered legislation as each chamber represents different constituencies and from them inherits a different temper. Even if the upper house has a mere delaying power instead of a veto, the effect is still salutary.

The American Constitution, which requires members of the upper chamber to be over a certain age, is shrewd, because it sets up the wisdom of experience to guard against the impetuosity of youth. Those who object to the elderly obstructing the brilliant schemes of the upcoming generation should understand that the art of good government does not lie in endless innovation, but rather, in having the discipline to adhere to proven principles. Success attends those who resist falling into the same old traps: over-regulation, over-taxation, and distortion of the market. The art of good government progresses by subtle refinements, not by the leaps and bounds of charismatic young hotheads.

Britain’s House of Lords, which is unelected, has no moral basis for intervening in the legislative process and should be replaced with an elected upper house.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove