Home > Uncategorized > The Haphazard House of Lords Reform

The Haphazard House of Lords Reform

So a 338  vote majority on whether to reform the House of Lords, making it partly elected, but only with a concession to scrap the narrow timetabling of the debates. Even with this everyone is saying that this bill is dead in the water due to that concession as well as the 91 Conservative MPs that rebelled against it (all of whom could have been predicted to have done this).

Reform of the House of Lords has been a long-held idea, especially within the Liberal Democrats. I remember being taught during my A-Levels whether there should be an elected House of Lords and I am still teaching it myself 10 years later. The positives seem self-explanatory. The idea of electing the House of Lords makes them more representative of the public and can therefore be held to account on bills and issues that they are involved in within the Houses of Parliament. Ultimately it would also seem an attempt to open up accessibility to the House of Lords (or whatever it would be called) to a wider range of people who electorally earn their position rather than just to the rich who donate money to the three main political parties. By making the system more democratic, law of averages would suggest that you make the system better….

…but is that true. It all seems to be in the detail of how this bill will be drawn up. Firstly 15 year terms are a joke. That’s not increasing accountability – If somebody does something wrong or contentious in their first year, how many people are going to remember it by the fifteenth? Either this needs to be reduced down ideally to five-seven or the power of recall would need to be built into it. Secondly, if there are some that are elected as well as some that aren’t some will be held to account whilst others will not. This will only cause more issues in terms of the inner workings of the system- either it has to be fully elected or not elected. A partly elected system simply is full of holes. Looking also at the fact that some of these ‘Lords’ will be representative of the people, surely they should have similar power levels to the House of Commons, which will be in the same position. Even if a redrawing of powers is not immediate, there will surely be a demand for more powers for the House of Lords to suggest that it needs these to be more representative of the people. If powers are changed, the House of Commons and Lords will turn in to a power struggle. Where will the PM come from? Where do Ministers come from? How will this impact on the numbers and make up of government? One key term that we look at in American Politics is ‘Gridlock’, where bills get stuck in the American Law Making procedure and very few are passed. This could be down to the fact that the Senate and the House of Representatives are both elected, both representative of the people and both similar powers. Surely this would be the way that the British chambers would go.

The big issue however is one of time. It’s the same thing when my pupils ask whether we will ever get rid of the monarchy, and my answer is always no. This is because of the time that it has been in existence. The longer that things are in existence for, the less likely that people will want to change them. It is the old cliché “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. There is a reason why the Conservatives are called this. They are conservative- they want limited change. Everybody living in the UK today has had the House of Lords in the current form (albeit with difference in types of peers) and most people will have had no issue with it. Why would people want to change something that they don’t have an issue with? Most people have more pressing issues that interest them.

David Cameron has been embarrassed. Even as I’m writing this watching Prime Minister’s Question Time, and boy is he rattled – lashing out and trying to protect his position desperately, he is struggling. The fact that he is unable to control his own party let alone the coalition in terms of rebellions shows his poor qualities as leader. He is a desperate man at the head of a sinking ship that is seeing a mutiny from the right-wing of his own party. Nick Clegg has on the other hand become delusional. He saw this as a giant success for the Liberal Democrats and has stated so to his own party. He need the Labour Party to help and even that was waiving the timetabling element of the bill. There is a very real chance that this bill will be filibustered to death or changed far away from the desires of the Liberal Democrats. He should have learned not to count his chickens before they hatched after the Alternative Vote referendum. By coming out with comments like this, he is simply diminishing his credibility further.

In terms of my own opinion, I feel that the House of Lords does need reforming. I don’t think it has enough power in scrutinising the House of Commons and holding MPs to account. This is needed to make sure that we have a fully checked and balanced system. The catch 22 of this is that there will be a conflict of power between the two houses. I believe that is always going to be the main issue with House of Lords reform and something that will be judged closely. What currently is going through Parliament is haphazard and unlikely to succeed however.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: