House of Lords Reform Bill

Two days of debate on the House of Lords Reform Bill will inevitably lead to the Bill being passed at its Second Reading because the Opposition will vote with the Government. I will be in the No Lobby.

I do not think that the proposals will do anything to improve the quality of the legislation passed by Parliament which is, as far as I am concerned, the principal question we need to answer before starting major reforms to the House of Lords.  I have had very few of my constituents call for yet more elected politicians and whilst the present system is not perfect there would be plenty of problems with any system which is proposed to replace the Lords. I think most people will put reform of the House of Lords fairly low down their list of priorities.

12 thoughts on “House of Lords Reform Bill

  1. For once – shockingly – I find myself in an element of agreement with you. The dog’s breakfast presented by the LibDems is quite shocking. 15 year terms for members, one term only? Really? And how does that either encourage a responsive and responsible attitude amongst the members or in any way reflect the popular mandate? Lest anyone wonder about the latter point, let’s reflect that in 2010, the LibDems took around 23-24% of the vote; compare that to the 7% they poll now. Hence the HoL might become illegitimate within its own remit over a short time.

    Add to that we are talking a system that is based upon party lists. This is a nonsense. Having done away with the hereditary peers (although, regrettably, not the bishops), life peers came into being, however these are appointees of the party leaders. The ‘new and improved’ system will not differ – to get on the party lists, one will have to be obedient to the whip
    and leader.

    This is very poor proposal indeed, and one that deserves binning forthwith.

    Here’s an alternative.

    Get rid of the HoL wholesale. Instead, vastly improve the legislative process in the HoC by giving the committees far greater powers and access to expert advice. Ensure that there are expert and lay members in these committees and ensure that their objections to clauses carry the weight they need.

    Go further. Ensure that Parliamentary scrutiny committees are given – automatically – a judicial status with regard to comments made to them. We’ve recently seen Diamond and the Murdochs produce somewhat less than candid evidence in committee because they’re simply not scared of them, and in their present makeup it’s all too easy for the 13 or so members to approach questioning from 13 unrelated angles.

    We don’t need the HoL in any form: we do need a reformed, absolutely professional HoC with teeth to hold the great and good – including incumbent governments – absolutely to account.

    • May I suggest that our – the voters – faith (or rather lack thereof) of the House of Commons and many of the “old school” MP’s does not encourage one to empower them further. To the contrary, the committee’s pathetic and lackluster questioning of Diamond and the Murdochs shows us very clearly that the House of Lords, properly constituted (with elected and appointed members) from the professions could do what MP’s won’t do- ask tough questions of someone whom they think can do them professional harm. I debated House of Lords reform in 6th form in 1979 and, 30 odd years on and, no progress. Don’t just criticise the proposal, work to make it better and lets get on with it!

  2. I am a constituent of Mr Nuttall (BL8 4HL) and find his position on Lords Refrom wholly ridiculous. It is essential that a parliamentary democracy serves the public, not self seeking politicians. The last 6 months have shown how out of touch Mr Nuttall and the Conservative party is with the public – they don’t deserve the privilege of representing their constituents, and I’ll now, for the first time in 30 years, be voting Lib Dem. Mr Nuttall needs to remember how slender his majority is.

    • “and I’ll now, for the first time in 30 years, be voting Lib Dem.”

      You’ll be lucky to find a candidate on the ballot paper David!

      “Mr Nuttall needs to remember how slender his majority is.”

      I’m sure that will be exercising him quite considerably over the period towards the next election…

      • Rather a trite response from an elected representative if I may say so Cllr Carter. However, your rather sharp reply just proves my point. I campaigned for the 1979 candidate, Mr Le Bosquet, and later for Alaister Burt. What I had hoped for was some recognition that we need a dialogue, not a tit for tat/who has the biggest ego response. I admire your committment to public service and to Bury, but please recognise that we must support Mr Cameron. Just my view, so please don’t be too hostile in any reply.

      • This is for Mr. Oakes – for some reason there’s no reply option under his post.

        I’m sorry if you thought my last post trite – it’s simply that in terms of political happenings, that I thought that I would make a couple of points regarding David’s majority and the Lib Dem’s fall from grace.

        I agree that if there’s any stance on reform it should be that it’s needed, but I maintain that the Clegg proposals are poor and would, in effect, neuter any call for further reform or abolition for a generation or more.

        I would far rather we get rid of the HoL (as per my first post) or sit down and think of ways that carry all party consensus – which would, I suspect, be extremely difficult.

        That’s my stance.

      • Perfectly sensible response, with which, to some extent I agree. My concern is that this reform needs pushing, and it should have been the Conservatives leading this. Giving the Lib Dems the chance to accuse Conservatives of “dropping their leader in it” and reneging on the agreement makes me uncomfortable. Now the reform is dead, it’ll be another 30 years. Why not set up a Royal Commission? It’ll take time, but can we afford to stagnate.particularly if the boundary changes are torpedoed.

  3. I agree with Cllr Carter’s opposition to Lib/Cam proposals for 15 year term for new House of Lords and even then no chance to vote against those selected at end of their term (if I’m still alive) ! Hardly democratic accountability. The election proposal for a form of PR on a Party list is again anti- democratic. We have just had a Referendum on PR – and this was overwhelmingly rejected..
    So the Libs, like Europe, ignore the public view and go ahead with another form of PR with the voters having no say in who is on these Lists. As in the European election you might not like the top of the List and favour the person in 4th place but you have to simply vote by Party. I think we need a lot of info on the proposals before a Referendum is necessarily held on this major change in our Constitution.

    The idea of experts being appointed as well as SOME C of E Bishops being put forward does not seem democratic. You need larger Constituencies with one representative on a shorter term alternating with MPs’ elections. (I hope the Duke of Westminster and the Earl of Derby are successful in the North West).

    Once they changed the House of Lords from the Aristocracy they moved to a system of appointees (Party cronies and elderly former MPs from the past ,in the main) and this is not going to be any different. The ordinary voter will have little genuine say in who ends up there and even less say in removing them.

    If this proposal makes Mr Oakes change from Tory to Liberal, I am amazed.
    On this, as on Europe and several other issues, I feel David Nuttall is more in touch with the public than this critic

    • Whilst one should always welcome an opposing view, in a functional democracy, I have to wonder at a Conservative MP (and his supporting correspondents) when they support a move directly contrary to the view of the Conservative Prime Minister, Cabinet, and majority of MP’s. It simply will not do to simply criticise on this issue – one should have viable alternatives, since no-one suggests Lords reform is not needed/long overdue and crucial to a modern democracy. And, with the proposed boundary commission changes so favourable to Mr Nuttall, one might have expected an MP not on the front bench to have the time to come up with nothing but criticisms. As to bishops being in the House of Lords, I suggest the person so “amazed” by my stance, take time to look at the positive contribution the Bishops make. After all, the Head of State is also Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and no-one criticises her. Less rhetoric and more substance please!

    • Oh, and I fogot to mention how delighted I am to have attracted the vitriol of not one, but 2 conservative Cllrs!. Wow!. As the long standing conservative Councillor for Tottington who just lost his place found out, taking your electorate for granted is a substantial mistake My regards to Cllr Carter. A reasoned dialogue helps – personal slights don’t, at least with me.

      • Hi David,

        No slight intended, I assure you. This is far too big an issue to let poor legislation through.

        Thanks,
        Simon

      • Really kind Mr Carter, and my apologies. I can be a bit dogmatic

        Best wishes
        (and yes, I will go back to voting Conservative)

        David Oakes

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