Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Is is 80 or 100?

I left the office this evening just after the Commons had taken the votes to approve both 80 percent and 100 percent elected upper house. So which is it, 4 out of 5 members to be elected or all of them? I have heard, and it is so far unconfirmed, that the highest share approved is the one the government will accept. It that's the case, it means no appointments whatsoever. Now that could be very iinteresting!

The next question is, is the government prepared to put time aside to get the proposals through. Perhaps Brown will see this as business he needs to see completed. And again, only time will tell. And it waits to be seen whether the government will allow for a transition in which the appointed lords are allowed to wither on the vine or are swept away in either one move or stages. I suspect they will attempt to buy out some with a rather comfortable lump sum (I think it's called redundancy payment) and an offer to use the facilities (no doubt many will regard the building as the best club in town). Persoanlly speaking, I can understand why they would go for the transitional approach.

So is this unfinished business about to be finished? I am reminded of when I was writing my PhD thesis - the biography of Walter Runciman (who was a Cabinet minister under Asquith). I studied the Cabinet papers as part of the research and looked into the Lords crisis of 1910-12. Well, the Liberal government then had no settled view on reform and frankly no government since has been able to sort out the composition either. So I will believe this thorny issue is resolved when I see the final result.

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