Monday, February 02, 2009

The Upper House

Peter Hitchens mentions that he thinks that the reform of the House of Lords should consist of putting back all the heriditary peers, who he characterises as harmless old coves , British through and through.
This is true.
Arguably, the problems started when Lloyd George threatened to create enough peers to get through any legislation he wanted, and the race was on to get a peerage.
It does raise the point as to what all the newly created peers would do. In a sense, they are mere cannon-fodder at the moment. Arguably, the remaining hereditary peers are the hardest working and, although of a Tory bent in general, tend to be less partisan and more thoughtful about what they are doing.
Certainly over the last decade, the Lords has been taken for granted by the Commoners - and the Lords, quite rightly, have voted against lots of Government measures as they have pointed out the inadequacy of the proposals.
So perhaps for a start the patronage of giving a peerage should be entirely taken away from the politiciams and left solely to the Lords themselves.Perhaps there should be an upper age limit ( maybe 75) and only crossbench peers be allowed to vote on government measures. Certainly there should be a mechanism for throwing out those who transgress. Definitely there should be an upper number, perhaps a maximum of 300. They could be designated VP - voting peer. Any other peer could put their views in the debates, but rather like the Law Lords, only certain ones should be allowed to vote.
It should be remembered, however, what the Upper House's purpose is. It's to provide a check and balance to the power of the Commons.
Without it, we would be living in a tyranny.

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