ACCORDING to the latest leakage (you’re not the only person having problems getting a plumber), one of the planks in Gordon Brown’s upcoming new deal for the UK governance is Labour “considering” abolition of the House of Lords.

Considering, mind. You don’t want to rush these things. And they haven’t. By my reckoning, parliamentarians of ­various stripes have been talking about Lords ­reform for 136 years.

There have been more white papers than reside in the average loo – commissions, committees, even specific proposals put before both houses. All rejected, of course. When Labour marched triumphantly into power in 1997 they promised to reform the Lords within a couple of years.

And they did. Except they left 92 ­hereditaries in place – folk who owed their peerages to their mother’s care in giving birth to them on the “right” side of the ­blanket. This motley crew even get the chance to elect a replacement when one of them finally falls off their perch or retires (a daring option only introduced in 2014!).

The story goes that Mr Brown’s ­committee think a useful revision would be to have a second house which had a wider variation because its remit would be ­having representation from the “nations and ­regions”.

You wonder which stretch of sand was available to encompass so many heads! We are way past shinier beads for the ­natives. These ships have not so much sailed as circumnavigated the globe many, many times. An independent Scotland needs no truck with any remodelled Westminster, no matter how many bells and whistles are ­removed.

At 800 odd members, the House of Lords is only dwarfed by the Chinese Congress which grubs along on just under 3000 ­legislators who, remarkably, agree on just about everything.

You might think the Lords was staggering towards democracy given that most of the unelected peers are now life members.

Except that most of them are also party/outgoing PM nominees which means most of them are either former MPs shoved ­upstairs by the People’s Party, or bods who have either poured enough money into Tory coffers or been staffers in Number 10.

The other category, what we might call the Dorries sector, fight their way in by tenaciously brown-nosing the boss. Since our Nadine has just deleted a Twitter ­account littered with idiocies, we might assume her elevation to be imminent.

Pray let us not forget those benches ­reserved for bishops in the Anglican clergy, a continuing anachronism in an ­alleged multi-cultural land. The only ­political party which chooses not to play this favourite sons and daughters game are the SNP for which they deserve credit.

So when members of the upper house argue, as they incessantly do, that the red benches are replete with wisdom and specialist knowledge, they are frankly only scanning the rear-view mirror. These days, for every Robert Winston or Helena Kennedy, there are a couple of dozen folk who use the place mainly to sleep, dine cheaply, conduct business and drink with pals.

And, although people are rightly ­exercised by the money they accrue by merely turning up, and the still lavish expenses including travel to and around London, they are generally unaware of the plethora of all-party special ­interest groups which propel peers round the globe at our expense.

It’s clearly vital that our unelected ­legislators familiarise themselves with the life and times of assorted Caribbean islands, though, in fairness, other groups have a genuine interest in keeping tabs on different world hot spots of a bellicose nature.

For my own part, the difficulty lies not in having a revising chamber to try to keep the other lot honest, but in what this particular one has become. Rumour has it that Johnson even harboured a wheeze to pack enough lackeys in to ensure a Tory majority at all times.

A revising chamber not consisting of rich donors, re-treads or teacher’s pets could be a very useful addition to the democratic brew, and not just down south either. Last week, the former Tory MSP Adam Tomkins called Holyrood a ­zombie parliament, which is pretty rich ­considering Westminster’s extended ­summer ­holibags (they’re off again for the conference season).

Mr Tomkins, however, freed from the necessity of being a nodding dog in Ross’s kennels, does make some ­useful points about the need to look again at ­Holyrood’s committee system and the ­serial ­trampling of dissent by the ­governing party. (Though to be honest I’d rather he’d used an example other than John Mason, who’s not so much a ­periodic dissenter as a man who disagrees with much he signed up to when he rode into town on an SNP ticket.) I THINK Tomkins is right to argue that committees need to be chaired by ­people selected on merit and not party loyalty. We part company, however, when he ­echoes the cry that Westminster should be able to interrogate Holyrood business. What chapter in the devolution ­settlement did he skip?

There is certainly an argument for ­external scrutiny and one for having an elected second chamber at Holyrood for that express purpose. It would need to ­encompass enough safeguards to stop it slipping into nothing more impressive than a tartan house of peers.

One would be a fixed five-year single term. Non renewable. Recruits would be nominated for election by citizens’ ­assemblies from the widest possible range of society, from the third sector, the ­unions, business, health providers, education, etc, and would not be able to utilise their berth as a back-door route to the main chamber. Ideally, they would be people with considerable experience and expertise in their fields.

So, to be clear, this would not be a ­chamber comprising people with specific party loyalties, although their diverse backgrounds would obviously reflect their personal experience. It would be as ­independently minded as these things can ever be. Its funding would be ­generous enough to ensure nobody was ­excluded for financial reasons, but ­modest enough to prevent gravy-train syndrome ­developing.

It would be a senate with no ­fancy ­titles included, which might prevent the ­nonsense of people littering the ­letterheads of organisations solely ­because they have a Lord or Lady ­moniker. It would ­probably attract those whose ­previous work precludes their ­being consumed by political ambition.

Meanwhile our still young parliament might take a hard look at how its early aspirations have been met by its current modus operandi. A useful start would be to prise managerial hands from a raft of structural edifices from the make up of committees and inquiries to the selection of candidates.

(Who could forget the cringeworthy performance of Margaret Mitchell at the Salmond inquiry? I know there’s not a lot of Tories to go round, but was she the best they could put up as co-chair?) The job of committees looking at ­legislation in advance in theory prevents any major-league clangers being dropped and could dovetail nicely with legislation being referred to a senatorial body before enactment.

One of my perennial hobby horses is parties controlling who goes on their list of possible additional members – so that in essence they can fix who is in with a ­decent shout, and who definitely shouldn’t give up the day job.

That ranking should not be up to party managers, while the poor bloody voting ­infantry should be told who is available and what their qualifications are. As in, why they would be good value rather than how many O grades they amassed.

My own tribe needs to take a hard look in the mirror too. Before Holyrood began, it set its face against replicating the ­shoddy lobby system at Westminster where only those favoured had an inside track.

A lobby is still a lobby even if it takes place in the pub.