Once again, we find ourselves debating House of Lords reform, and once again we ignore the most favourable and democratic of our options. Last week, the Upper House voted decisively to reduce its bloated roster of peers. Good riddance, as the current number stands at over 800, including almost 100 hereditary peers and many appointed purely for political or tactical reasons.

Indeed, on Reaction Mark Fox called for “radical reform” of the Upper House, suggesting that the House of Lords would do well to resemble the size of the United States Senate, which operates with just 100 members. I tend to agree that the Upper House should be much smaller. Peerages, after all, have become somewhat depreciated in an age when they are handed out to former political aides like sweets to well-behaved children.

The purpose of the second chamber is to scrutinise MPs and provide a balance of power. In a functioning, meaningful democracy, this service would be provided by the people and not by a specialised class.

You’ll hear a lot of talk about the unelected nature of the Lords. It is fanciful rubbish to believe that the population has either the care or the energy to bother with the electing of peers. One only has to look at European or General Elections to get a sense of the scale of electoral absenteeism. There are also those who advocate a “unicameral” legislature, backing the abolition of the second house altogether and reaffirming the sole sovereignty of the House of Commons instead. This suggestion seems rash and impulsive. Often, important issues require double checks or second opinions, and smaller bills which receive less attention from MPs are frequently passed straight onto the House of Lords with minimal acknowledgment from the Commons.

So if elections are out and an Upper House is necessary, why not reform the House of Lords by revisiting a system that helped to distinguish our courts? Juries of citizens selected at random, drafted into parliament for a couple of weeks at a time and expensed by government (with hotels provided for those that live afar and train fares for those who do not) would represent a far more democratic alternative to a chamber of peers.

Sortition, as the process is more formally known, brings the legislative process closer to the man in the street. Random selection of citizenry in the second chamber would bring to an end the slow suffering of the peerage, introduce more cognitive diversity into British law-making and make ordinary people feel more involved. The Westminster parliament would be transformed overnight into a citizens’ parliament.

The jury system is immensely popular and retains huge potential within our political sphere. The public wants a say on the bills that pass through the House of Commons, but we do not allow them.

The argument that a jury of random citizens, each representing a specific part of the UK, wouldn’t be able to make intelligent judgements as to whether or not a law is good for the country is nonsense. We trust our fellow citizens to determine the fate of potential criminals before a court of law. Why can’t we trust them to vote on proposed bills and apply checks to government? After all, the second chamber is supposed to be a “House of Peers”. If it were to truly justify the name, we’d fill it with those who live in our neighbourhoods, those who work in our local public services or those we know as friends.

This proposal isn’t new. In a rather provocative book The Athenian Option: Radical reform for the House of Lords by Anthony Barnett and Peter Carty, the same pragmatic case is made. Even mainstream figures support it – Jeremy Clarkson wrote 2012: “Seriously. Who would you rather have doing the job: hereditary peers or your mate Jim from the builder’s yard? Quite. We trust randomly selected juries on the important business of a person’s liberty, so why wouldn’t we trust a similar system to apply the checks and balances in government?”

So we are left with a simple questions: what kind of Upper House do we desire? One in which meaningless titles are inherited or handed to individuals to strengthen party presence, or one in which the forgotten man or women gets a chance to play a vital role in the legislative process? I know which one I’d prefer.

Oliver Norgrove tweets @OliverNorgrove