Is it not time to tell these people to be realistic and see that what they cling to - compounded by people to whom they perpetate a class system that we are equal in birth, life and death> get over the crap and intimidation of THE LORDS and get a life - that's all>
Put simply, the House of Lords should be democratised.
A second chamber is critical for 'checks and balances' but should not be a Retirement Club and privilege for MPs, Civil Servants and other unelected establishment figures.
I want to see something like the USA's House of Representatives. Local district level, elected representatives sitting in this second chamber with voting rights on all Government legislation. The number of representatives for the locality would be based on the size of the population and hence be a proportional based system.
The existing House of Commons would be reduced in size with the MPs in this House representing the wider county or regional interests.
MPs, and our new chamber of representatives, would be subject to primaries where we get to choose who best represents us within the a party before elections. Also, 3 year terms only would exist for the new UK House of Representatives with the local electorate having the right to remove their representative based on performance and effectiveness. In the House of Commons, restrictions will be placed on the number of times an MP can stand for reelection.
We have an outdated, parliamentary process and a democracy that is entrenched in the middle ages. In the Internet age we now live in, with biometric and other authentication technologies now available, there is no reason why more influence and say cannot be given to UK Citizens.
We need Government representatives who truly reflect local communities as opposed to a political class largely drawn from elitist schools and backgrounds who believe they were "born to lead".
The House of Lords is in my opinion a necessary tool that is a very useful counterpart to the House of Commons.
Take into account the issue mentioned above in regards to the House of Lords: The issue of Fox Hunting and other measures that the Labour party has pushed through the House of Commons due to their large majority can only be stopped by a second house that is independent and not politically motivated. Bear in mind that not all of the UK is against Fox Hunting (in actual fact I would put the figures at a rough guess at about 20% against, 20% For and around 60% indifferent who have not really thought about it. Therefore a second house that can consider items raised and can look at their impact upon this country without so much political thought is surely a good thing.
YES I understand about the problems of unelected peers being able to veto decisions and also the issue of heriditary peers are two crucial thoughts in regards to the House of Lords.
Lets think about the issue of Heriditary peers first. I personally think that this is in parts possibly a better idea than peers which have been given a peerage by political parties in order to get the House of Lords to vote in a way that the current political party wants them to vote. At least before we had a number of peers who were fairly independant and would vote with their thoughts and not just on party issues.
Lets also consider the issue of unelected peers. This is still the case currently as only the political party that is in power decides who gets elected into the House of Lords. I would love to see the house of lords continue with unelected peers who come from various backgrounds which make them knowledgeable in various fields. We should have ex judges who make good decisions in their court time and ex doctors and ex businessmen. This should allow the House of Lords to be a good countermeasure to the House of Commons and be representative of the countries opinions.
We must have some sort of second opinion and countermeasure to the House of Commons so I say that we should not abolish the House of Lords and ensure that it stays at least in part without political pressure and therefore be a good balance of power to the House of Commons.
House of Lords is a select group of people who keep an eye on the laws made by MP's. Lords also called Peers have to pass a bill before it becomes law.
Currently there are 751 peers.
26 are Lords Spirituals
725 Lords Temporal
Spiritual Lords: 2 archbishops, 24 bishops.
Temporal Lords: 633 Life peers (made by government), 90 hereditary Peers and two ministers of Crown.
History of Lords goes back centuries. Once Lords had more powers than Parliament. Slowly Parliament has increased its power since it is selected by the common people.
I don't want the house to be abolished because it protects the rights of us all. I see MP's as more corrupt than the Lords
Labour and Tory party have similar policies on most things. LibDems are too small to make any impact. Since Labour government it has been the House of Lords which has been opposing Tony Blair.
House of Lords has changed a lot. Before the changes House of Lords was politically incorrect. Peers got in through birth rights. It wasn't democratic, it wasn't fair. I accept all this. What I don't like is people nominated by politicians who enter the house. Hereditary peers have been pensioned off.
In future the house will be more corrupt. Hereditary peers were more independent than current bunch. Seriously now what you have is people loyal to political parties serving in the upper house and this blurs the lines. MP's will have it easy in the future.
When considering the possible abolition of the House of Lords there are several aspects of the question to consider.
1. Does the British parliamentary system, of which the House of Lords is a part, operate as effectively as possible for the benefit of the British people?
2. Would the abolition of the House of Lords improve parliamentary system?
To answer the first question,
Does our present parliamentary system, and the House of Lords in particular operate as effectively as possible, I believe that this question must be answered with a 'No', the main reason for that is because the parliament we have at the moment is a mess. It has been reformed piecemeal over many years, but each attempt at reform has introduced new anomalies into the system.
We have a House of Commons which contains elected members of parliament from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Commons passes it's legislation to an unelected House of Lords that can delay government bills but cannot reject them. Elsewhere around the United Kingdom we have parliaments or assemblies in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but for some reason that I have never been able to understand England has been denied this democratic privilege that the rest of the UK has been granted.
This situation means that laws that relate to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland can be dealt with locally by their own elected officials, but laws that relate specifically to England need to be passed by elected members from across the UK in the house of Commons, and then by the unelected House of Lords.
So who are the members of the House of Lords?
"The House of Lords does not have a fixed number of members: currently there are 751 members, consisting of 26 "Lords Spiritual" and 725 "Lords Temporal". The Lords Spiritual are the two archbishops and 24 most senior bishops of the Church of England, while the Lords Temporal are 633 current Life Peers, the 90 Hereditary Peers and two Great Officers of State."
Leaving aside the suitability of Bishops from the church of England to sit in the House of Lords, although personally I would have thought being a bishop was a full time job, and if it was being done properly should not leave much time to visit the Lords anyway!
The majority of the members in the Lords are either Hereditary, or Life Peers. I want to suggest that neither of these groups should be governing the country. Hereditary peers have no special skills at crafting legislation, or understanding the intricacies of government, they are only there because they were born in the right family, and even if one or two of them may be excellent at their job, we have no guarantees that their successors will be.
Life Peers, these are a more mixed group of people. Many of them are career politicians, and former members of the House of Commons, others may be there because they have performed some service for the government or society in general. The major problem is that this people are not accountable to anyone.
Another of the serious problems with having an appointed House of Lords, is that whichever party is in control of the House of Commons will generally attempt to avoid defeat in the House of Lords by appointing sufficient new life peers to ensure a majority in that house.
There are of course many excellent life peers doing a fine job of actively scrutinising government bills and trying to improve them, but it does not make sense to maintain a bad system simply because there are some good people within that system.
Having decided that the House of Lords is not the best possible system to govern the country we are immediately faced with the problem of how to replace it.
As I mentioned earlier the main job of the House of Lords is to scrutinise government legislation, to revise, and amend it as required. I would suggest that these functions could be equally well performed by a series of committees set up for the purpose.
The committees could be appointed by the House of Commons on a proportionate basis so that the composition of the committee members matches that of the House of Commons. This has the advantage that the committees could be filled with people who were experts on the particular subjects under discussion. These experts would not have to be elected politicians, but could be drafted into the committee on an 'as required' basis. They could claim a daily attendance allowance in a similar way to present House of Lords members do now.
This solution does not completely solve all the problems with our parliamentary system. In particular it puts too much power in the hands of the House of Commons. I would resolve this situation by increasing the power of the national assemblies/parliaments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and the creation of a similar parliament in England. This would leave the House of Commons solely to deal with matters which affect the whole of the United Kingdom.
This is of course only an outline solution of the problem, and I will leave it to others to flesh out the details, no doubt there will be those with a different solution to the House of Lords problem, but this is how I would do it.
The talk of getting rid of the House of Lords raises one question: what would replace it? I would like to raise the consequences of getting shot of the Lords, but first, describe a little bit about the Lords.
PS. If a cetain university lecturer is reading this, it is my work (an abridged version from one of my essays previously submitted) and so it's not plagiarism!
The Lords is the supreme court in the country, and also the second chamber in the political system. It consists of approximately 700 members, 92 of which are hereditary. Lords are not elected as members of the Commons are, but are appointed on recommendation of selection committees. As the second chamber in the political system, it debates and revises legislation, and also acts as the final court of appeal.
Much has been done in the past centuries to reform, or even abolish the Lords. The latest proposals by the Wakeham Commission in 2001 set out plans for a reformed second chamber, which would consist of up to 600 members, of whom 120 members would be elected by the public and 120 appointed by commission. The remainder would be appointed by political parties. The time period that members can sit in the new house has been proposed at 15 years, but may vary between 5 and 20 years, and other details are still in debate.
There are many reasons given for change. Many believe that the Lords is an outdated institution, stifled in procedure and not fit for modern society. Others state that its members are out of touch with reality of every day life, and should not be in a position to pass judgements or legislation that affect areas of life to which they have little knowledge. Others believe that an unelected chamber is simply not acceptable in a democracy. There is also criticism that the Lords is not independent of the Commons, a view supported by recent Peerage for cash scandals in the press. The new House, therefore is intended to be independent of the government, representative of society, democratic in its setup, with legislative and executive powers being split.
I believe that changes to the house are unnecessary, or at least ineffective. Firstly, the proposals do not make for an independent House. The fact that the majority of members would be selected by MPs does not give meaning to the term independent, and will only support the ongoing allegations of cronyism, where members are selected depending on friendliness, donations given to a political party, or some other favour in return for a seat. If such people represent over half the House, it will invariably be seen to be a lapdog of the government, a criticism that the current system is receiving. Rather than reform the Lords entirely, the selection of peers should instead be reviewed so that it can truly be independent and perform its role effectively, without interference from political ideologies of the party in power, otherwise the new chamber would only be as representative as the government. This would mean that the powers of State would not be separated, for as long as one branch of government has effective control of another, then that other will simply be a separate power in name only.
The ability of this new second house to criticise, reject or amend legislation would be ineffective, especially if other outside influences come into effect. Such influences could include lobbyists or organisations with a particular interest in some legislation or another. Recently, MPs were accused of being in the pay of corporations (It is seen now that some peers (and indeed MPs) have private commercial interests which can be said to influence their work). What is to stop the same happening in the new House? Such circumstances would prevent the House being an effective safeguard of the other. The whole idea of the Lords (or any second house) is to prevent bad legislation being passed by the government, or the powers of Parliament being abused. At one point, the UK had two such safeguards, the Lords and the Royal Assent. Since the powers of the monarchy have effectively been eradicated by successive governments, we now only have the one safeguard, which in its present state is not really much of a safeguard at all due to the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, which practically stripped the Lords of being able to defeat legislation. The Governments usage of these Acts (designed to be used to force through urgent legislation, and used only four times since 1911) is a demonstration of abuse of power and contempt that a government can have over a second chamber. What would stop the same thing happening under the new reforms?
It could be argued that having a second chamber which is also a court of appeal (in effect the same body creating, enforcing and interpreting the law) is not much of a safeguard. However, the Lords that sit in the appellate side of the house are separate from the remaining Lords, and it is not impossible to make the Court of Appeal the final court of appeal. Such a stance would certainly go some way to the separation of powers referred to in the reforms.
In all, I believe that maintaining and correcting the faults of the present system would be more beneficial to the justice system than to have the same problems under a new name.
Although the political system is based upon a two chamber legislature with the monarch providing the third level of checks and balances in the system as the Queen has to sign all bits of legislation, in effect this signing of legislation is a formality, whilst the second chamber the House of Lords actually has limited powers in its ability to block or amend legislation.
If a government is determined to pass a piece of legislation that the Lords keeps rejecting then it can invoke the Parliament Act to force the legislation through the Lords and onto the statute books.
Given the recent press stories about the apparent loans for peerages scandal that has engulfed Blair and his government it would seem a most opportune time to make major changes to the Lords and introduce an elected second chamber and to do away with the patronage and jobs for the boys culture that has bought the repuation of the Lords into question.
In my opinion a second chamber elected on a proportional representation voting system would ensure that the make up of the house would be significantly different to the Commons whilst at the same time allowing smaller minority interest parties a greater voice at Westminster. Elections could take place on a fixed five year term so that no one party could force an election of the Lords, once elected members have a five year term and to ensure that it is not seen as a job for life a maximum consecutive term could be set at 15 years. This would allow people to gather experience whilst at the same time making sure that they did not become too complacent in their position.
There have been instances over the past couple of years where the Lords have been effective in challenging the government and this is particularly important when any one party has a large overall majority in the Commons and therefore has little opposition to its plans in the house, it is at times like these that the Lords has a role to play however given the poor level of attendance and the fact that there is still a significant number of heredity peers in the house then it is time to bring in some radical changes and drag a political system into modern times.
The house of lords is a joke to our democratic britain how can we assume that because someone was born into a family that they know more than the rest of us do? The lords on the house of lords dont know the first thing about politics and wouldnt know it if it jumped up and punched them in the face I vote to remove all of the lords and take all power away from the house of lords These noble people are the same people who have objected to the banning of fox hunting and thats proof enough to me that they dont know what they are talking about We have a democratic society in britain but the lords are making sure that it isnt all democratic and that means that the voters will never get what they want The lords have stood in the way of loads of new ideas that have been passed through. If we do not remove the house of lords then i fear we will never have britain the way we all want it.
I believe that the House of Lords does an invaluable job in scrutinising House of Commons Bills. While it is true that the House of Lords cannot veto or reject a Bill, and it can be overridden by invoking the Parliament Acts, it is still the best mechanism for review that we have. The other mechanisms review, committees, and judicial review, do not look to challenge the policy statements in Bills. Before a Bill can be passed up to the House of Lords (HL) it must be first discussed in the House of Commons (HC), at the discussion stage the opposition may challenge the government on the bill. However at the moment the government has such a large majority in the House that it does not seriously need to consider the views of the opposition, as it will always win in the HC. This is why we need someone to challenge the government, and at the moment the HL is our most effective form of opposition. When there are Bills, like that on hunting, which made up part of the government’s election manifesto, the government clearly has a mandate for it, and I don’t think the HL has a right to postpone the Bill. The maximum time the HL can postpone a bill for is one year. In more contentious cases though, and I’m thinking of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2001, the HL should use its power to amend the Bill, and if necessary postpone it. In the case of the Terrorism Act, it was passed using increased public anxiety post- September 11th, as an excuse to include lots of controversial issues. These included clauses about “incitement to cause racial hatred”, and while no one can argue that these things are right, they may well have benefited from a Bill of their own. Whereas other clauses, including the right to intern people without recourse to proper appeal forced the government to say it would have to derogate from the Human Rights Act 2000. This is clearly not a state to be desired, and it was the HL and not the opposition tha
t was saying so. In other states it is possible to challenge legislation which conflicts with the constitution via judicial review, but, thanks to the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty, we can neither have a written constitution, nor a system of judicial review that challenges legislation. It may seem superfluous to have a second chamber which challenges the democratically elected government’s Bills, but remember, not every Bill that will be passed within that Parliament is included in the election manifestoes. The Hl is no longer entirely, or even largely made up of Conservative, hereditary peers. Now the numbers of Conservative ad Labour peers are roughly equal. The people making the real decisions in the HL are the cross-bench peers. The crossbenchers, are life peers appointed by the queen, after recommendations from the Conservative and Labour (government and opposition) leaders. They tend to be knowledgeable and respected people from public life. They also do not have formal political ties and so do not have to tow the party line. Thus they are left free to criticise Bills and table amendments. In the case of the Terrorism Bill, when it was passed up to the HL, they sent it back to the HC, with, I believe, 14 amendments. The government chose to reject all of the HL amendments, and, instead chose to change the document to its original form. This was passed again, and sent back to the HL. The HL could have been stubborn, and amended the document again, but it was clear that the government was not willing to compromise on the issue, and would go ahead with the act without the support of the HL if necessary. The problem, as far as I can see, with the HL has much less to do with its composition than with its lack of teeth. Though the pre-reform HL could not be said to be representative, or democratic, isn’t that what the HC is for? Some people say that they want a purely democratically elected upper chamber.
Step back and think about the consequences of such a thing, of course it would depend on where these people were elected from, and in what way (first past the post, or proportional representation), but isn’t there a distinct danger that the HL would have a composition almost exactly the same as the HC. If that were the case what would be the point of the HL at all? It would just be a rubber stamp for the HC. I am very much in favour of the Royal Commission’s ideas for the house, in which no one political party can dominate. However I don’t think that the HL will be able to function properly without greater powers to challenge the government. As I said before, I don’t think this should happen where the government has a mandate to pass an act; but if the HL is able to more seriously challenge the government it may lead to more thoughtful development of legislation with a view directed towards creating a better state in the long term. Rather than the short term public appeasement that we saw with the Terrorism Act. Unfortunately I cannot see any government giving away power to a body that it cannot control. This means that we will continue to see a stunted HL, that must content itself to dotting the government’s i’s when it could be helping to positively shape law.
Let me preface this opinion by stating that I am an ardent traditional (‘GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!’) and ALSO a fervent socialist (‘WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!’). I’ve read through many of the opinions in this category and found some of them quite excellent (even the ones I wholly disagreed with). But one point which emerges quite clearly is that (amongst others ‘groups’) there are ‘traditionalists’ who support the Crown and the House of Lords [HoL] as an important part of British culture (which I agree with); and there are the ‘modernists’ who see the HoL as undemocratic and outdated, who are interested in the rights of the ‘common man’ (which I also agree with). [a majority of these ‘modernists’ also are in favour of abolishment of the Monarchy—often ostensibly on the grounds that it is a waste of the tax-payers’ money: an invalid argument since the Monarchy doesn’t really cost the taxpayer much at all, but rather, more than pays for itself in tourist-trade.] No ‘traditionalist’ argument is ever going to convince a ‘modernist’ (such as scotgirl, who I find very insightful, even if I disagree with her on many topics), and no ‘modernist’ argument is ever going to convince a ‘traditionalist’. So I’m going to attempt to write an opinion supporting the HoL without relying much on traditionalist-grounds (though I’ll freely admit that I have traditional reasons for supporting the HoL as well). Let us think on the establishment of a sensible, decent, well-functioning government. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE IDEAL GOVERNMENT: Democracy and Representation ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- In an ideal, Platonic world, the best government would be a ‘dictatorship’ of a philoso
pher-god-king who also always knew (and made) for right decision for everyone and everything. We can quickly dismiss this notion as we live in a far from ideal world, one sadly lacking in philosopher-god-kings. In the modern Western world, some form of democracy has generally been held to be the ideal form of government. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘[democracy] is the worst form of government except [for] all those other forms that have been tried’. ‘Democracy’ is literally [in Greek], ‘rule by the people’. It doesn’t take a keen eye to note that there is no democracy in the world which is really ‘ruled by the people’. Why not? Again, _ideally_ it sounds a great idea, even if it does have a few drawbacks: whatever the majority of the people decide is what is. One can’t make all of the people happy all of the time, so the next best option would seem to make whatever political decision makes the _most_ people happy. But a true democracy would require that *every* political decision be made via a referendum. This is obviously untenable: this entire populace of nation has neither the time nor, in many cases, the knowledge for a ‘true’ democracy to work. Thus, we compromise by electing those people who views most closely co-incide with ours as our representatives in the government (we say the word ‘representative’ so often, but think about what it really means: a ‘representative’ is someone who stands in for us in government, who ‘represents’ our views—at least, in theory). Again, it doesn’t take a very sharp mind to see how many things can go wrong in a representative-democracy and everyone is aware in fact of how many things have gone wrong in Western representative-democracies. The root of many of the problems of representative-democracies seems to me to be that our ‘representatives’ become career-poli
ticians. And what we really want are representatives, and not politicians. But is there really any feasible way to keep the two notions separate? No, no, not really. This is one of the realities of the world. Our representatives become politicians, and, in many cases, corrupt politicians. We do the best we can. But there does exist a means of counter-balancing some of the faults of our representative-democracy, run by representative/politicians in the House of Commons: a second chamber, the House of Lords. Is it a perfected crafted and weighted counter-balance? Does it level the scales of justice completely? No, but have you a better idea? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE SHAPE OF THE 2ND CHAMBER: Politics and Genetics ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- The advantage of an [unelected] 2nd chamber is that its members are not representative/politicians, but simply *representatives*. Of course, they’re not democratically-elected representatives, but then that’s the whole point, isn’t it? The advantage of democratically-elected reps is that we get to choose them. The disadvantage is that this often makes them much more concerned with their public appearance then with the public good (and, often, none of the candidates is really to our liking), and the party-system means that the elected reps’ decisions are also often heavily-coloured by intra-party politics, rather by the wants and needs of those they are actually intended to represent. So, yes, the HoL is definitely ‘undemocratic’—but, if you keep in mind the flaws of the representative democracy, this emerges as a _good_ thing. Unelected officials have advantages over elected officials: they needn’t worry so much over their public image (as they are chosen for life) and they aren’t so likely to be ruled by party-politics. We wouldn̵
7;t want a government made up entirely of unelected representatives, but likewise I would say that they don’t want a government made up entirely of elected representatives either. What we want is a balance. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it is optimal – the best of available options. Right. So why not have a second chambers whose members are appointed. I think this is a much worse idea than an elected 2nd chamber. Who is to appoint them? The government? For the government to be able to fill a 2nd chamber with persons of its choosing would be horrendous, for obviously they would choose those people whose views match their own. To allow those ‘democratically-elected’ representatives, whose decisions are likely to be heavily-based upon party-politics which have little or no bearing on the wants or needs of the people, to be the ones who determine the membership of the 2nd chamber is not only undemocratic, but foolish. And if one party later loses favour with the populace and another party gains control of the Commons, that party—no longer supported by the people—may still have a substantial degree of power obtained by cramming the 2nd chamber with its own people. This is obviously not to be desired. If we are to have unelected representatives—as I think we should, for reasons already stated—then they should be chosen by some *disinterested*, *unbiased* mechanism. And—by lucky chance—we already have such a mechanism: Nature. The non-appointment, hereditary peers of the 2nd chamber were ‘chosen’ by Nature. They occupy their positions by the random chance of their birth. And, since they are not thus career-politicians, they often have a much wider experience (in academia, in business, in the arts, &c.) which has the potential in fact to put them _more_ in touch with the ‘common man’; and they are much less likely to be have their decisions coloured by party-politics,
since they needn’t rely on the support of any particular party for their position. You might still think this unfair, due to the monetary-status of the peers and the fact that they may be ruled by ‘family-politics’ rather than party-politics. But not all of the Lords are rich, and, on the whole, I certainly don’t think they number within the wealthiest people in the kingdom. And ‘blue-blooded’ children disagree with the forebearers as often as us commoners, so I don’t think ‘family-politics’ is really an issue. But it is still certain families who ‘provide’ the Lords, you might say. But, as of yet, the Lords (unlike Scottish sheep) don’t clone themselves—there is new genetic material being ‘injected’ into noble families constantly. In any case, I see clear advantages to a 2nd chamber selected by an unbiased mechanism. I’ve suggested Nature as such a mechanism—if you know of some other _disinterested_ apparatus… --------------------------------------------- COMPROMISE: A National Lottery? --------------------------------------------- I doubt that I have yet convinced any of the ‘anti-Lords’ of the advantageous of a hereditary membership of the 2nd chamber. The ‘modernists’ are still going to say that the Lords are an out-dated institution, with silly titles, &c. Fair enough. But I think my advocation of the clear advantages of an unbiased, disinterested determination of the membership of the 2nd chamber is a sound argument. So what’s the solution? Delink membership in the 2nd chamber from the hereditary peerages—the ‘modernists’ most likely agree with me on that much—but don’t let’s delink membership of the 2nd chamber from an unbiased source of selection. We can hold a ‘National Peerage Lottery’. Everyone gets one (1) ticket
and whenever a Lord dies or retires, we randomly pull a number out of a hat and whosever’s ticket matches is offered a place in the 2nd Chamber. We probably need to limit it to UK citizens over a certain age (30?-I don’t know). To keep the ‘traditionalist’ happy though, we could keep the peerages linked to the seats in the 2nd Chamber perhaps. And just think what fun this could be:-- “Wife: ‘Hello, dear, how was your day?’, Husband: ‘Fabulous, I’ve just been made the Duke of Leicester!’, Wife: ‘That’s wonderful, love. What should we have for dinner?’, Husband: ‘Let’s celebrate and get a take-away curry…er, and in future, I'd prefer you to address me as Your Lordship...’” ------------------------- CONCLUSIONS ------------------------- But all humour aside—and though I certainly labour under no illusions that my ‘national peerage lottery’ suggestion will be adopted—I actually think that it would be a far better idea than either an elected or an appointed 2nd chamber. However, since the hereditary membership is still partially in place, I’m in favour of that (besides, since I’m a ‘traditionalist’ I prefer it anyway, though I’d be happy to settle for the ‘national lottery’ compromise). I do hope Tony Blair’s crusade to ‘root out conservatism’ hasn’t irreparably damaged the HoL. I see the form of the British government as a tapestry: new threads are constantly being woven in, and the colours of these thread and the style of the weaving evolves and changes over time—and this is only as it should be. To weave a new pattern for a new time is only just and proper. To rip out an old section of the tapestry with little thought for the consequences doesn’t make a new, 'stream-lined', ‘modernised’ tapestry.
It doesn't create a better pattern. It only leaves us with a torn and tattered tapestry. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- some other 'pro-Lords' opinions I found useful: *'We need two chambers to defend the people's views' - by Dunks *'Yes, a 17yr old supports the Lords!' - by beano *'The House of Lords is the last hope of the common man' - by Alan Rice
Don't know much about the House of Lords, only about 'posh' people with which the House of Lords is made up. I come into contact with 'posh people' every day. I am neither 'posh' nor homeless so I can see how people live from both sides. Seeing that lot in the House of Commons reminds me of those two old geezers in the Muppet Show. Sat sleeping, commenting but actually quite out of touch with everyone else because they sit way up high where they cannot converse with the rest of us. The life of the priveledged few is a rather bizarre one in my opinion and voting to keep Fox Hunting shows where their true influences are. Other countries must sit and laugh at our lot there in the House of Lords. Doesn't do much for our 'classless' society. So if they are useless, therefore they are a waste of our tax-payer's money. Who would replace them? Perhaps people voted in not as politicians, but as upright and long serving members of the public - people who have been around and come into contact with many people through their lives and perhaps have children who are not already over 50. Ex teachers, nurses, doctors, shopkeepers - people who see the public on the front line and are better able to speak in a more representative manner.
How dare anyone suggest that the House of Lords should be abolished! Along with the MCC and Richmond Bridge Club, The House of Lords is one of the few great British institutions left standing after all the bloody left-wing upheaval we’ve endured in recent years. Many of my close acquaintances are peers and people just don’t understand the time, effort, and sheer hard work these chaps put in, trying to beat the traffic in Westminster. Do you realise how hard it is getting a decent chauffeur nowadays? And all they get for attending is bloody expenses anyway – they could at least be given a decent salary for running the country. In fact a chap I know says he might stop attending altogether unless they either give him a decent allowance or make those leather benches more comfortable to sleep on. I realise I’m an old-fashioned kind of fellow, but I don’t understand the argument that these people don’t have a right to decide what is best for this country. Of course they do – it’s in their blood you ignorant pinko fools! I’m not sure about a few of the life peers, particularly those of the fairer sex, but the hereditary peers are of noble breeding, and it’s a scandal that Blair is trying to get rid of them all. The fact is that these people should lead because they were born to do so. We don’t really want the proles running this great country of ours do we? As for the complaint that the House of Lords is undemocratic, what utter rot! The House of Lords is very democratic; it’s just that its roots lie in the democracy of several hundred years ago when women, servants, the poor, and generally anyone without a title weren’t allowed to vote. If anything should be abolished it’s the House of Common-as-mucks. Then we could bring back hanging, ban overseas cricketers playing at County level, and win back the Ashes. When in damnation will people get their priorities righ
Cast your minds back to last year in Scotland. There was a by-election, a 'referendum' and a piece of legislation scrapped that the clear majority wanted to keep. Something strange happened in that by-election. A Tory actually won a First Past The Post seat in the Scottish Parliament. The SNP came second. The Scottish Socialists picked up their vote significantly, whilst the Liberals fared appallingly. Why? Because the elected politicians of Scotland were refusing to listen to the clear majority of Scots who voted in the referendum. A year later, Labour's vote in Ayr has picked up dramatically and they won the Westminster seat. There can be no other explanation for Labour's poor vote in March 2000. I will not go into the details of Section 28 - we all know what it is. The lack of a second chamber in the Scottish Parliament means the government can impose legislation on us without any scrutiny (the commitees are full of Labour and Liberal yes-men). In England & Wales, however, the legislatiion was blocked, because they had a second chamber. So the 'unelected fossils' clearly were more in touch with the people than our 'democratic representatives'. Of course, the Lords have often voted against the wishes of the majority. And I do not believe that every single decision made by Her Majesty's Government or the Scottish Executive should be subject to a referendum. But where the government is taking a decision against the vast majority's wishes, that decision should be subject to further scrutiny. The House of Lords is even more important at the moment, as the government have such a large majority that the HoC might as well not exist. But the HoL *do* make amendments, they *do* have a better partisan balance, they do have people who are not just party robots (cross-benchers), and even Labour peers in the HoL are prepared to question the Government (OK, the Commons has a couple, namely Dennis Skinn
er and Tam Dayell) The UK Parliament needs a second chamer, and so does the Scottish Parliament. So why not make them democratically elected? I think this would produce a chamber exactly the same as the HoC, full of yes-men, with no proper scrutiny and fewer amendments. The people in the HoL have real experience, you can just tell by the standard of debate. Why have two chambers that are totally identical? The vast majority of Lords have worked hard to gain their positions, and Parliament is all the better for them. Besides, the same people who call for the Lords to be fully elected conveniently forget we have another unelectable, unaccountable structure making big decisions for us, the European Commission. But, of course, Europe is the future! Anyway, I digress.... If the HoL is elected, it could just be a matter of time before people call for the Bank of England, the coal board, the BBC Board of Governors and the Government to be elected. We don't elect a Chancellor or a Health Secretary, Tony Blair does that. We would get into a dangerous mish-mash of elections which nobody would vote in anyway! I do think the bishops are a good thing because they represent the religion of the nation. However, only one religion *is* represented, but then again, they all hold similar views. Perhaps some representation of Catholicism and other major religions would be a good idea. So in conclusion, we definitely need a 2nd chamber. Why should it be elected when we already have a bunch of people who are elected, do no good for anyone, who can change their policies at the blink of an eye, and who no-one even bothers to vote for? Do we really want two chambers like this?
Many people argue that the House of Lords is an outdated institution which plays no part in today's world. However, the House of Lords plays a very important role in our system of government. To have a government which functions adequately and does not get carried away with its own power, it is necessary for there to be some kind of 'checks and balances' system built into it. MPs are not independent, as they are constantly under pressure from their constituents, their party whip and their own interests to vote a certain way or push for certain laws or reforms. The role of the House of Commons is to represent the people, the House of Lords has a different role, to check and balance the House of Commons. People argue that the House of Lords is undemocratic, as it is made up of unelected persons, but it is necessary for these persons to be independent in this way in order for them to fulfill their role in government. Besides, it could be argued that it is becoming more democratic to an extent, with the introduction of nominating people to become Lords etc. Although I would not say that the House of Lords is perfect, it plays a vital role in our system of government, a role that cannot simply be erased. If we were to abolish the House of Lords, a similarly independent institution would need to be set up in its place. That is why I do not see the point of abolishing the House of Lords; you would end up with something similar that people would complain about, probably for much of the same reasons they complain about the existing system. Until a considerably better system is devised, why slow down the already slow political system and waste money which could be much better spent elsewhere, for example on the NHS, on replacing what exists with a very similar successor?