Home > Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Main Blog - General, UK Politics > Change I can possibly believe in. Conservative MPs propose acceptable Lords Reform.

Change I can possibly believe in. Conservative MPs propose acceptable Lords Reform.

Tony Blair and his Labour Government provided the single biggest argument for retention of the House of Lords in 2006 when they attempted to pull a fast one by innocently legislating for what was an Enabling Act. Their intentions may well have been innocent, but the countless abuses of the 2006 Serious and Organised Crime Act, tell a different story.

The Save Parliament campaign managed to defeat it. A coalition of internet nerds and the House of Lords.

In 2008, it looked as though they were going to try again. As part of the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill. SpyBlog and Dizzy Thinks picked up on it.

If there was a fully elected Second Chamber during most of the years of the Blair Government, they would still have a large majority now, leaving Legislation largely unchecked. Given that the bunch of Labour lackeys in the Commons did nothing to stand up to this Government, where would Britain be now? Everyone under house arrest for parking fines, with 90 days of detention for all?

A second chamber must be able to hold the main chamber to account and it must be able to provide a proper basis for revision of legislation that a highly whipped House of Commons will rarely do.

The House of Commons has already voted for Lords “reform”. Much of the debate was based on old class war politics of attacking hereditary peers, who have been remarkably independent throughout all Government terms. It is in part why the Blair Government did not like them, but he was not afraid of using class war to get his agenda.

The Working Peers by and large have not worked. They have become Party lackeys and just follow what the (admittedly less strict) Party Whips say. In order to firm up the Whipping system of the Lords, Brown has heaped largesse on them. This Government has more Ministers from the Lords than almost any before universal suffrage. Not bad for an unelected Prime Minister. The advantage to the Whips of spreading that Government largesse, is that what is given can be taken away and given to someone else.

I am deeply sceptical of plans to mess around with the Lords, although I do accept that change is being forced on it and so reform or abolition of the House of Lords is imminent.

This is why, having read the proposals by Sir George Young and Andrew Tyrie I am actually somewhat impressed.

Their report to The Constitution Unit recommends that all new members of the House of Lords should be “term peers”, serving a single term limited to three parliaments. It also says the second chamber should be 80 per cent elected through a system of proportional representation, with a minority appointed element of independent experts.

No Government would be able to secure a majority in the Second Chamber, therefore mitigating the risk of any future Government attempting to pull another enabling act or 90 days detention trick again.

It also calls for the Appointments Commission to undertake the appointment of all peers, not only ‘non-political’ appointees, as a way to break the link with political patronage and donations. Another crime against the constitution that Blair and his cronies got away with.

It even gives a sop to those wanting abolition of the House of Lords, with a mild proposal to call it The Upper House.

The full report is here in .pdf format.

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