Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cutting down the Lords is not enough

The report by Lord Burns on the size of the House of Lords is due shortly. There are currently 800 jobs-for-life members of the upper chamber, bigger than the elected House of Commons. The chances are that there will be a substantial cut in numbers. How this is to be achieved is yet to be announced but expect a great deal of cooperation between Labour and Tories to protect their members at the cost of everyone else.

Axing numbers however is not enough genuinely to reform the Lords. A legislative body made up entirely of life appointments (or in the case of hereditary peers, 92 individuals elected by other hereditary peers already in the Lords) is an affront to democracy. How people get into the upper house is the electoral elephant in the gilded chamber and this is to be left untouched.

We can thank the Tory/Labour old pals act for failure to reform the Lords in the Coalition years. Labour worked with the Tory right to destroy the chances of introducing a reformed and elected upper house, something Labour are supposed to support.

Ultimately, no matter what is done to the numbers, without direct election, the House of Lords will remain an undemocratic body that represents the few rather than the many.

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