What to do with the House of Lords?

Casually surfing around the blogsphere a post about the future of the House of Lords caught my eye.  This one came on Left Futures and it suggested a compromise position on voting reform idea, having First Past the Post for the Commons and Proportional Representation for the Lords, newly constituted as a fully- elected scrutinising chamber. Fine idea in theory, but a totally dreadful one in practice. As the first commenter points out, such an arrangement without a written constitution which carefully codified roles and necessary checks and balances would be a constitutional crisis waiting to happen because both Houses would be fully elected but under different systems. Therefore both would be able to claim at least equal legitimacy and, of course, in a crisis would try to claim primacy.

So, as a singular demand its a bad idea. Coupled with a demand for a fully codified constitution which also reforms the Commons by abolishing, for example, Royal Prerogative powers it makes more sense and is more palatable. Having said that, I am a little suspicious of having more than one chamber; again its something that probably sounds nice in theory but in practice I feel it tends to work against democracy and the left.

The reason the left has called for the House of Lords abolition is its place within the constitutional monarchy state formation – not only does it enshrine the power of the monarchy, the Commons Executive (whichever hue that happens to be), and the Church (and thus is a bulwark against full secularisation of the state). A fully-elected House of Lords would no longer be the House of Lords as its understood now because, for example, there would be no automatic seats for Bishops.

However, the real problem with Lords Reform as a singular demand is that it fails to address the wider issue which is the whole form the constitutional monarchy state takes and the huge democratic deficits therein. Lords Reform could, at some stage, upset the whole apple cart by hook or crook because of its central place in that state but in doing so will pose more questions than calling for Lords reform answers. Demanding Lords reform is all well and good but it needs to be part of a much broader package of reforms that totally overturn the whole constitutional monarchy state apparatus or else it will do nothing to address the gaping democratic deficit in this country.


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8 responses to “What to do with the House of Lords?”

  1. ]ohn p ried says :

    The trouble is that if the Leaders of the 4 parties camapigned on behalf of their proposed people for the second chamber then the (lord’s) would be worried about beign deselected and would waver to the party whip, Witness Laobur lords voting agaisnt 42 days or Libdems voting agasint Elected (police) commisioners, One way is to have revoving elelctions, Some councils have elections every year, but with the Lords make it one year for crossbenchers only,now when Neil hamlton was accused of cash for questions in 1997, Labour/liberals stood down and put up indepndent Martin bell ,so IF There was a YEAR when someone who wasn’t going to go with party whips then the major parties could put them up and fund their campaign, like green campaingers who all political partie slike ,If not agree with, george Monibot,Jonathon Porrit, etc, or respected Police officers like John Stalker, FORMER speakers in the Commons were respected among cros sarty support Miuchael Weatherill, Betty Bootroyd, But there still would have to be unelected people, and why are their arch bishops even if the Head of the catholic church/Board of Jewish deputies, then their should be a leader of the Humanist orgainsitation.


  2. gillig says :

    The commons should not have the right to select the Lords. Politicians don’t need this right to run the country, and are not in the best position to exercise it fairly.
    The Lords should be checking legality, punctuation, spelling, factual content, relevance and standards of morality on ideas produced by the proportionally elected commons. Politicians should not be in a majority in a chamber with these responsibilities.
    A second chamber is vital because politicians are mostly unqualified idealists. Their childish confrontational debating produces little that is of benefit to the population and what they put forward needs careful scrutiny. The Lords can provide this, once they are free of political and religious bias.

    The people respect the Royal Family, despite the fact that the Royals are underemployed, filthy rich from inherited wealth and have no obvious natural talents. Let the Royal family and their advisors select the Lords.

    The current system is a national embarrassment. A load of Kinnocks who Mandybum about with their Pattens up their Ashtons of Upholland. Political appointments ignoring lack of ability, merit and integrity.
    The people would prefer a head of state to a porcine left wing political committee.
    The Royals aren’t going anywhere and campaigning against them is a vote looser. Give them a job! The Christmas Speech could list those hired and fired, and a few adverts in the BBC exclusive could pay everyone’s telly tax.


  3. gillig says :

    I take the lack of response to mean that you are completely in awe of, and in agreement with my proposal.
    If you guys are thinking of standing in the next election, you could include it in your McFesto.
    What won’t work is promising a referendum on it, or anything else.


  4. John p ried says :

    Maybe they couild have a lord per general election constituency and have av and have it on the same day as the general election, that way ,if one of them croaks it half way thorugh there could be a by election and no one to worry,
    i think it was awful when Oona King had been elected to the lords that she resigned from labours NEc and the party Just replaced her witht he person who didn’t quite win, If i’d known that she sould have cleared off to the lord,s I may have voted for teh person who came under the woman who didn’t quite win, and that way my vote amy have meant the person who came 2nd runner up, may have come runner up and she would be on the NEC now,
    Something similar happened when david Lammy was elected to the GLA in 2000 on the top up poll ,but as he was leelcted to parliament a few weeks later the person below him went to the GLA instead,


  5. gillig says :

    You will get the entire cast of Corrie and Rearenders voted in.
    An honourary motor tour of French Underpasses would remain as royal prerogative for any old Oonas.


  6. John p reid says :

    damn I can’t even spell my own name!


  7. gillig says :

    @John Reid;
    If I was Chairman of Celtic and a former communist, now LORD, I wouldn’t use my own name.
    The fact that you couldn’t work with McBruin who can’t do sums makes me think you can spell your own name and are just winding up the former Libdim now jobseeker.


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