Monday, 9 July 2012

Oh Lordsy Lords

Two things concern me over reform of the House of Lords - well, three in fact. I get the point that there seem to be too many of the chaps and chappesses - and judging by some bishops' expenses they don't come cheap (not to mention those archaic robes). But I'd have thought a reasonable retirement age might sort that out for a start. However here's the thing.
1  We're told there doesn't need to be a referendum about it because the electorate have already been given the opportunity to vote about it - at the general election. A commitment to Lords' reform was in the three main parties' manifestoes, we're told. QED. Eergh? What choice did that give the population then? I suppose, theoretically, if that was the overriding issue for you, you could have voted for the Monster Raving Loony Party. However in practice the choice between 'Yes', 'Yes', or 'Yes' is no choice at all. In other words, the electorate has expressed no opinion on Lords' reform.

2  If it ain't broke, don't mend it, and certainly don't mend it in a hurry.

3  And this is the most significant, in my view. The down-side of electing peers is that you will change the nature of the House. Admittedly some peers at present are career politicians (come up and out through the Commons) and more have taken a party whip (in other words they're more likely to toe the party line), the present house has a distinct weight of those who haven't sought power but who are disinterested and distinguished people who have been asked to serve. The Clegg proposal will radically lighten this weight, and therefore the Lords' will have less of a critical voice and more of a party one. I suspect I'm not alone in wanting less party politics in Parliament and more wisdom.

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