Former chief secretary Sir David Akers-Jones says a two-chamber Legislative Council as proposed last week could exercise checks and balances over a directly elected chamber that might otherwise play havoc with the constitution and trample human rights. Sir David advised on the innovative two-house model proposed by the Business and Professionals Federation on Friday. Beijing has ruled out universal suffrage in 2007. The federation sees its system, which would operate from 2012, as paving the way for democracy. Sir David said a two-house structure would encourage 'more material discussion' in the first chamber. 'Instead of looking over the shoulder of functional constituency members, they would have to look at the business of government in isolation from the second chamber,' he said. 'We get the public voice in the first chamber ... If there are areas which are controversial with no clear public voice, it would be able to prolong the process of consultation until a clear policy emerges.' The government would be able to bridge the gap between the two chambers if some legislators also sat on the Executive Council. Under the model, a directly elected chamber would discuss and pass bills and motions. These would be put to the second chamber for further discussion and amendment. In case of disagreements, the second chamber could delay the process to allow for a compromise. It should not have veto power. Sir David dismissed suggestions the proposal was aimed at protecting minority interests and insisted the idea was to strive for a better system with checks and balances. 'In other places, the second chamber protects the constitution and human rights because it is possible under a directly elected system that a majority of the first chamber may play havoc with the constitution and trample on human rights,' he said. The two-house system would not work against the ultimate goal of universal suffrage. The federation envisages a fully directly elected chamber with 50 to 60 members and a smaller second chamber with wider functional representation. 'It will make things easier for officials in dealing with discussions. We hope that rather than condemning this idea, people will think about it as a creative way forward,' Sir David said. 'It's the right time to put forward the idea ... We don't want to wait until 2008 to think about 2012. A timetable is no use if you don't know what you want to do.'