Friday, 28 August 2015

Lords for the Lords?

There seems to be a consensus of opinion across the spectrum that the Lords isn't working. For every dedicated peer giving time and effort to scrutinising and revising the minutae of legislation there are ten getting pissed on subsidised public booze in the UK's most expensive private club. Spivs, crooks, dags, dead-beats and losers; life peers, of course. Drawing a per diem allowance every time they turn up to lunch. So what are the options?

If we need a second chamber - and we do - it must be rather smaller, of no more than 200. Making it an elected chamber creates huge problems of democratic rivalry with the Commons - which is the more legitimate? So it really needs to be an unelected chamber.

However, leaving membership appointments up to serving politicians means they will stuff it full of the drongos, dags and failures with whom it's currently stuffed; we need a way of getting 200 random, non-partisan peers dedicated to good legislating and not afraid of standing up to the government when necessary; men and women of honour, virtue and valour.

Life peers are a poor-doing lot. You'd need to mince a good score of 'em to get an ounce of virtue. So how about restricting membership of the Lords to, erm, hereditary peers? They owe the government nothing, usually have a real diversity of life experience before they change their name (forget the Woodhouse stereotypes - think Keith Rous, a successful Australian sheep farmer who became the earl of Stradbroke, telling villagers at his local pub to 'call me Keith' ) and are generally both independent and bloody minded.  

Add to this a revival of the practice of elevating truly exceptional individuals sans reproche to hereditary viscountcies or earldoms (perhaps not even one each year, and Willie Whitelaw wouldn't really make the grade) and our most outstanding contributors to national life would be recognised and augment and refresh the peer-pool. 

19 comments:

DeeDee99 said...

Agree that the Lords needs fundamental reform and massively cutting down to size. But we can't possibly regress to making it an hereditary chamber.

It needs to be democratised: the people need to have at least some say in its members.

Other countries, notably America, manage quite well with an elected Senate. It should not be impossible for a committee of current Lords to nominate potential peers, based on their life/work experience (not the amount of money they've donated to LibLabCon) and put a shortlist to the electorate for them to make the final decision.

The size of the chamber should be fixed, like the Commons, and it should be a strict case of "one in, one out."

By appointing "Lord Moat" so he can thieve off taxpayers again must surely be the final nail in the coffin of the current disgusting set-up.

right_writes said...

Anna Raccoon made a superb blog on the same subject back in July...

http://annaraccoon.com/2015/07/28/end-of-the-peer-show-at-the-maison-des-cretin/

I will repost my comment from there, if I may Raedwald....

“And can we please go back to hereditary Peers? The inbreeding involved did seem to produce a less obvious crétin.”

On why this is the best method for selecting our legal scrutineers!

I have waxed lyrical about this rather old fashioned concept for many a year, and very few people ever seem to recognise its merits… Interesting to note that a significant commentator such as yourself has mentioned it Anna.

When a gentleman’s trouser tadpoles are the determining factor, we don’t necessarily get inbreeding, although that is a possibility…

What we do generally get, is a varied selection of relatively wealthy men (preferably), who have been expensively educated, and who do not make any demands on the state. How the individual family set-up determines which son will inherit is their business, not ours… which is another burden removed from the (oh so important) shoulders of government… We get a self regulating system, that generally wants what is best for the institution itself and therefore, best for “the community”.

It must always be remembered that they have no authority to legislate, just the authority to stop people legislating… We have for 800 years had a perfectly reasonable set of laws, that do not require much (if any) messing with… Only professional politicians would disagree, for changing things (always for the worse) seems to be their reason for existence, they rarely have any other talents.

We get people that have no need to work, who’s stake in society is the protection of their own wealth and position (generally) and for whom a couple of days in London each week is a pleasant diversion before dinner and chess at Simpsons.

We also get a good proportion of deviants and these will be determined by their father’s choice of a mother and the subsequent treatment of said inheritee. This is how (in my lifetime) amongst all the relatively ordinary coves, we have seen people like Lord Kingsale, Lord Lucan, Lord Bath (the Loins of Longleat) and Marquess of Blandford…

Apart from this, as I have already mentioned, the system has operated in our national interest for 800 years now, without any real input from ourselves… other than the addition of the rare new addition, due to attrition.

On the political side, we get a good number of classical liberals and a similar number of conservatives, but rarely do we get any of the destructive socialist elements that our democratic system vomits up, presumably through some sort of weird intellectualism… I suppose the Stansgate appointment being one of the best examples.

Anyway… the actions of weak politicians such as Asquith and Blair determined to cheat the system to get what they want, rather than pay allegiance to our traditions has not done us any favours, as we can now all see.

The state pension (liberals overseen by Asquith) has never been affordable and has never really satisfied the needs of ordinary folk… Had the bone been tussled over for another few governments, we might have got something sensible. Obviously this is better than Blair though, who apparently just wanted to see the nation destroyed by communitarianism before he left with his money for greener pastures… His father must be spinning in his grave.

Cuffleyburgers said...

Whatever else it mustn't be an elected house.

Not only because of the problem of democratic rivalry whatever that is, but because it would fill up with politicians, when what we want are intelligent, honest, hard-working people.

right_writes said...

@Cuffeyburgers...

Nails, heads and hammers...

Meeting in perfect harmony,

right_writes said...

...So-called democracy is being used against people.

It's time we woke up to this fact!

Weekend Yachtsman said...

What Cuffeyburgers said.

But given the modern world will probably never accept an unelected house, how about electing it solely from people who have never been a member of Parliament before, anywhere, and who must have spent at least ten years of their life working in a genuinely private, non-charitable business, and ...

Oh what's the point - the bastards will find a way round any restrictions we try to put on them.

Let's just hang them all.

Anonymous said...

Maybe potential peers should pay for the privilege?

It could be by cash,(a lot), and it would make their influence more obvious, but better still for doing something that we want done.

Governments are always banging on about job creation for the young, workshy etc. so if someone creates a certain number of jobs for 'x' years they get a knighthood, do the same for more for longer and they get a key to the 'house'.

Sackerson said...

As a couple of commentators have said in effect, the trouble is that democracy is now expertly gamed. I don't have the solution. How do you get a government that genuinely does its best for the people?

Dave_G said...

The HoL should have proportional representation of the public vote at each GE regardless of the seats allocated in the HoC.

Only in this way will some redress be made towards the inherently biased FPTP system.

The leaders of each political party would then allocate their own nominees, from a 'roll' of pre-existing Lords, as appropriate but only to a total of 200 or thereabouts (to account for 'fractions'). This would retain the ability of politicians to 'reward' their colleagues as they see fit.

NEW Lords should only be awarded on merit - any evidence of party financial contribution should mean automatic disbarring.

Wildgoose said...

I certainly agree that we need to rid ourselves of the Life Peer Cronies - the hereditary "noblesse oblige" contingent being considerably better, after all, they have a multi-generation stake in the outcome of their actions. And of course it ensure continuity of oversight.

I like the idea that elected members of the House of Lords could never have been members of the House of Commons although I am sure that the Political Parties would still act to game that system.

However nobody has mentioned the (senior) Lords Spiritual - bishops in the Church of England. That really is the most egregious affront to democracy there is. The sooner we disestablish the Church of England, the better. (I'm surprised Greg hasn't been along to make this point in his usual forceful manner).

Budgie said...

The establishment hate the people ("we will rub their noses in diversity" etc) so the Lords, controlled by establishment politicians, will reflect the widespread ongoing crony corruption endemic in our ruling class (and that includes Corbyn). The only answer is direct democracy where we, the people, can initiate and directly vote on a particular issue.

Plantman said...

All appointments to the HoL should be vetted and approved by a "Hypocrisy Commission" That would reduce numbers, mainly left wing ones,but others as well - the latest being Peter Hain.

Ah, "but who sits on the commission" I hear you ask. A subject for a whole new thread! (but perhaps when it's up and running it could extend its remit to matters educational - ruling out any chance of a place for Diane Abbot for sure.

Flyinthesky said...

It's a curiosity, an anomaly that worked, 'till Blair decided to mend it.
Hereditary Peerage had few axes to grind, usually well off so didn't need the money and no partisan policy to pursue. A lot of common good and common sense judgements, often aligned with public views.

Since the great mending the subsequent administrations have infested it with stooges.

I think the idea now is to discredit the institution and do away with it.

It shouldn't have worked...... but it did.

Anonymous said...

Why not have members of the HoL appointed & cycled in an almost jury service selection; open to all tax payers

Mike Spilligan said...

Well, nearly everything that could be said has been said but I'd like to add that I predicted (only to my mates in the pub) that the Blair "improvements" would lead to lots of Blair's pals being ennobled. At that same time I said that when this runs through, we'll wish we had the hereditaries back - as per Radders. However, I think we're never going to get that as that age has passed and we're well into the one man, one vote era.
In that case my ideal would be a House of Peers (excluding the Spiritual ones) of about 240 with one third being elected by popular vote every three years, each person serving no more than one 6-year term. That would reflect changing attitudes (and political matters seem to move along faster than ever before) without overwhelming the stability of ongoing legislation.
The problem of how we choose a "pool" from which each tranche of 80 remains, I'm afraid, except I'll confirm a previous comment that they shouldn't be chosen from present or past MPs - even though there'd be screams from people saying that we'd be rejecting "parliamentary talent".
By the way, the last anon. commenter has overlooked, I think, the fact that Blair introduced "People's Peers". Whatever happened to those?

Sackerson said...

Mike S: we'll end up with US-style Senators. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse.

G. Tingey said...

How about hereditary peers, whose "lordship" declines by a grade each generation?
Until they cease to be "lords" & thus not members, unless they, personally do something that gets them raised a grade (or two ) ?????

Cascadian said...

Oliver Cromwell.......where are you?

Anonymous said...

The solution seems obvious...

Election to the Lords by popular mandate, candidates selected from among the heridatory aristocracy.