The end of the peer show?

 

           Every week when Parliament is in session the executive of the 1922 backbenchers committee meets to decide what to tell the Prime Minister about backbench attitudes and reactions to the government’s business. The full 1922 Committee also meets every Wednesday, where any Conservative MP can attend, and voice any criticism in the privacy of the meeting  they wish.

            I have never before written about these meetings. They are best kept private. Sometimes they are unremarkable. Sometimes they express support for a Minister or a policy. Sometimes we summon a Minister to  get a progress report or  home in on problems that matter to us. The Chancellor comes for a consultation meeting with us before a  budget when he is forming his measures. He comes after budget to report. The Prime Minister comes once a term to tell us how he sees things and to take our questions. Sometimes these meetings  send tough messages, wanting change to what the government is doing or how it is behaving.

               On Thursday, as some of you will have seen from widespread press coverage, there was an extraordinary meeting of the 1922 Committee to discuss government plans to reform the House of Lords in the next session. It was billed as extraordinary because it was on a different day, in addition to the usual weekly meeting, and was designed to handle just the one main topic.  Someone present must have  decided to ignore the normal confidentiality and tell the press about some of it. It turned out to be extraordinary in more ways than one.

                It became clear that Conservative MPs do not want any Bill on Lords reform in the next Queen’s speech. The Conservative party, like all the main parties, is divided over how to reform the Lords. Some want an all elected second chamber. Some want a  hybrid chamber , with some elected and some selected, like the Bishops. Some want selected peers but wish to see reform of length of service, retirement dates, reduction in numbers and other changes. Some want it left alone, thinking it is fine as it is.

                           However, last week  consensus broke out. Practically all  decided that a Bill on Lords reform this year would be wrong. At a time of major economic crisis in Euroland,with the need to battle down the deficit at home and complete major reforms of welfare and public service, there was no appetite to open a new front by taking on the Lords. All reported a complete lack of interest from constituents in this cause. Many thought the politicians would look even more out of touch if they went ahead with a Westminster issue at such a time. How would it look to be discussing new high pay and allowances for Senators, replacing much cheaper current arrangements, when the debate is meant to be about cutting public spending?

                      I now read that this “rebellion” had some official stimulus. If there were, it was well hidden. None of the colleagues I spoke to had been asked to be present.  None had been given the wink that this was something they were allowed to rebel about. It seemed that many MPs for varying reasons had decided they needed  to warn the government now,before they put such a Bill in the Queen’s Speech, that its passage would be troubled at best, and probably dependent on Labour votes.

                           Many feel that such a major constitutional change would warrant a referendum. After all, if voting systems and elected Mayors qualify for a referendum then so surely should major Lords reform. Labour too would want to vote for such a referendum. Many Conservatives would wish to add that if we can have yet another constitutional referendum on something  we don’t want to change,  could we not at the same time have one on something we do wish to change, our relationship with the EU? There is concern that the Bill may include electing   the Lords by a system of proportional voting, so soon after the public decisively rejected such a voting system for the Commons.  What part of “No” did they not understand?

                        I hope the government is wise, and grasps that this is a topic which needs further discussion and  thought. It might be a good idea to seek a consensus first on what the Lords is for, before moving to thinking about how to choose its members. Now is not the time to legislate. I have never seen the Conservative Parliamentary party so at variance with its front bench on a single issue.

 

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80 Comments

  1. Mick Anderson
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    We really don’t need more Party politics in the upper chamber. It’s bad enough with the extra cronyism that Mr Blair introduced. You’re quite correct that it is not something that the Electorate really cares about, and I’m pleased to hear that the EU Elephant was raised when a referendum was mentioned.

    When the current crises have been resolved (and assuming that Government doesn’t keep on inventing more) then you can have another go at constitutional fiddling.

    I propose that the HoL is replaced by people drawn from the general public. They should be volunteers, and sufficiently informed to be able to make sensible decisions. It would mean that any legislation from the HoC would be approved by representatives of those who are actually going to have to live under it, and hopefully reduce the amount of legislation in general.

    Any terms should be fixed length, a one-time event in anybodies life and only for UK-born citizens with at least 20 years continuous residency. Acceptance to the pool of volunteers should be subject to proof that your education and/or life-experience is adequate, and those who have worked in politics should be specifically excluded. Weeding out the unsuitable will require an interesting system….

    The point is that Government is meant to be by representitives of the people. The Party system is so insidious that any meaningful link between MPs and the Electorate has long since been discarded – climbing the greasy career pole seems to be far more important to most candidates. Of course, because we would need the politicians to approve such a system, it’s never going to happen. But next time Mr Clegg starts talking about how undemocratic the HoL is, wouldn’t it be nice is someone could tell him that his proposal is not really the best change – there is actually a way of improving the system for the people who matter most; the general public.

    • eddyh
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      I would query your “only for UK born citizens”, I was born in Singapore where both of my UK born parents worked, my mother in the army. I have lived the last 60 years of my life in the UK working in the NHS. Not that I would want to volunteer but is it fair that I should be excluded?

    • Stephen O
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:45 am | Permalink

      Though I think the HoL member should be drawn from the ranks of ‘experts an top managers’, is is very appealing to have ordinary members of the public selected (as with jury service). They could provide a reality check for the government.

    • Ajay
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      The HoL is no more undemocratic than the European Commission which is appointed by the current PM from the ranks of retired and/or failed politicians. It has more power over us than the HoL and, arguably, more power over us than the House of Commons!

      And what is so democratic about Clegg, with only about 11% support in the country, having such a say in how the HoL is constituted?

      • lifelogic
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        Indeed all very true.

  2. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you for letting us in on what is going on in our only fairly elected house. Nobody else gives us such a fair description of how our representatives are behaving.

    Our representatives have, of course, hit it square on. Down here, we can all see that Tony Blair wrecked the Hours of Lords for pay and that before 1997 it had been a really useful. A house of hereditary peers (now defunct) made a lot of sense. It worked.

    Down the gym, people are not standing in huddles moaning about the House of Lords, I can assure you. I do hope that Mr Cameron very soon learns to go, like Mr Macmillan, to the tea rooms sometimes to chat with people.

    • outsider
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Agreed. There is little clamour for reform and the proposed package brings many losers and few winners. It is unlikely to be so good at detailed revising and those who want a democratic second chamber on principle will be unhappy. Back to the drawing board, starting with the concept of a second chamber.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      A house of hereditary peers didn’t work. The Parliament Acts were specifically introduced because the Lords kept blocking the Commons on important issues; such as money bills, reducing the age of consent for homosexuals, and banning hunting with dogs.

      No one complains about the House of Lords because they can’t do anything. They’re little more than a rubber stamp on the decision of the Commons.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

        Hmmn, not strictky true. The Parliament Act was originally introduced as a result of the Lords rejecting Lloyd George’s budget in 1909. The Liberals got tetchy because the Tories in the Lords wouldn’t support their desire to introduce a new tax on landowners.

        Interestingly, the Parliament Acts have only been used once by a Conservative Government (in 1991 for the War Crimes Act) but Tony Blair seemed to be unable to resist either using them or threatening their use.

        Some in the Lords would argue that bills grafted in the commons are now so badly drawn that their oversight is needed now more than ever.

        I know I might be wasting my time, but I would argue that a second house made up of something other than elected politicians might just be a good thing, precisely because it is not stuffed full of career politicians. And someone who is a hereditary peer, might not have a tie to a particular party and could be a less incorruptible individual than a career party hack desperate to get on.

        Just a thought.

      • John Fitzgerald
        Posted April 25, 2012 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        This is where this proposal for a replacement of the HoL by a completely or partially elected upper chamber comes off the rails. I can see imense public anger if the HoC can ignore objections from the elected upper chamber by just invoking the Parliament Act. This is just another example of politicians wanting their cake and eating it!

        If the upper chamber becomes an elected chamber then the Parliament Act would need to be repealed. Or at least replaced with a revised Act which would make using the Act dependent on certain conditions i. e. national crises etc. This would negate any of the sort of behaviour we saw from Chairman Blair!

    • Rodney Dawkins
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      I was horrified when learning about the axe that Tony took to the lords – seemingly to remove obstacles to his European and Middle Eastern ambitions. I think it was vandalism. But just because the tree has been maimed, I don’t think that means we need to chop it down. Clegg might have thought he could sneak this past the electorate. But I will be watching like a hawk this time. Last time was before the internet era had taken off. ‘Reformers’ won’t get away with it in quite the same way now that the social networks, et al are all watching.

  3. colliemum
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    “It might be a good idea to seek a consensus first on what the Lords is for, before moving to thinking about how to choose its members. Now is not the time to legislate.”

    Indeed – the constitutional role of the HoL ought to be made clear before there’s fiddling around the edges about who should sit there. It is not good to continue the awkward and rather awful ‘reforms’ Blair set in motion.
    It also ought to be made clear to the LibDems that outbursts like that of Mr Fallon in The Independent, threatening to withdraw from the boundary changes proposals are childish attempts at blackmail and a discredit to them.

    A reform of the HoL must be well thought through, and given time, it cannot be rushed just to pacify the small coalition partner.
    There are indeed problems which the government must address as matter of urgency, such as the economy and how to work for growth, the EU and our relationship. Those on the front bench who want to push this reform through, with a referendum, will not be forgiven at the next election if no EU referendum has been given.
    The reform of the HoL is too important to end up as the Tory equivalent of Labour’s fox hunting bill.

    • Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I would say the *intended* rôle of the Lords should be set out as part of reform proposals; we should not assume that this should be the same as the status quo. The authority of the Lords has been greatly diminished over the last century or so in recognition of its undemocratic and semi-legitimate nature – once that weakness is resolved, most or all of the limitations should also be removed. Since one fully elected House would have the democratic legitimacy of the other, giving it lesser authority would be difficult to justify and retain long-term.

      As another comment already notes, we rejected AV for the Commons – that is neither a rejection of PR as a principle nor a rejection of any proposal for the Lords. Personally: the change should be put to a referendum, the new Lords should be proportionally elected in some way, we should indeed vote on EU membership at the same time if we haven’t already had that vote by then – and yes, Lords reform is less urgent than various other issues, though Claire Perry’s committee report surely proves the Commons has much too much time on its hands.

      It’s good to hear that the ’22 committee seems to be largely on the same page here. There is a time and place for frank and private discussion, of course, but conveying backbench sentiment is also valuable: thank you for sharing it, and I do hope the other members also understand the importance of communicating this sort of thing in future, rather than brushing everything under a confidentiality carpet.

    • outsider
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      If “something has to be done”, the Commons could just pass Lord Steele’s HoL reform bill, which has already passed the Lords. Even this strikes me as too complicated but it could be enacted without any great crisis, satisfy honour and probably do more good than harm. That would leave time and space for the more important conceptual debate that Mr Redwood suggests.

  4. Caterpillar
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Whilst I agree with the general direction of the argument that defining the role of the Lords (scrutiny, revision, continuity …) and then how to achieve effective and efficient delivery need to be clearly laid out before willy-nilly changes, but I do have to comment on;

    “electing the Lords by a system of proportional voting, so soon after the public decisively rejected such a voting system for the Commons.”

    (1) (Again) the public did not reject a system of PR the public rejected AV. I would vote against AV, but would support two vote mixed member PR. [It seems somewhat below this diary to continue painting AV as PR]

    (2) I suspect the fear of a PR system for the second chamber is that this would indeed lead to questioning the democratic if not legislative supremacy of the Commons.

    Perhaps understandably given the result of the last GE, the Coalition rushed into a (poorly debated and irrelevant) AV referendum, rather than giving more clear consideration. For what its worth (i.e. nothing – but that is the current politics of the UK) my own leanings are towards two vote mixed member PR for the Commons – approximatley half constituency seats + half Sainte-Lague + overhang; for the Lords a similar number of Constituency FPP seats + 300 longer term selected/appointed. Overall I think the Commons needs to first be re-examined, boundary changes and number decrease alone will not allow people to feel represented and reconnected with politics, this is potentially very dangerous.

  5. Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this exercise in Open Government.

    Mr Redwood writes “I have never before written about these meetings. They are best kept private.”

    I presume we may now look forward to regular reports each Thursday morning and following all 1922 meeting while Parliament sits, or will such frankness depend solely upon the leakiness of your colleagues.

    A precedent has been set, now how will such matters be handled in the future?

    Reply: No, I will not be writing about private meetings. I do always write about contentious issues which are often discussed at them. I will be writing about the results of such meetings, as I have often done before.

  6. Sue
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    “All reported a complete lack of interest from constituents in this cause.” Quite!

    I am increasingly convinced of the fact that you lot obviously have nothing left to do now you have ceded all powers to the EU. This constant faffing about with things that don’t really matter to most constituents only proves that you’re having to justify your existence at all. Pandering to Liberal Democrats and socialists who want to get rid of all our historical traditions, the things that make our country special, will not please “ordinary” people.

    What difference would it now make if all MP’s were to be made redundant? Absolutely none but to save us an awful lot of money. The majority of you certainly don’t represent the majority of your voters any longer and even if you do (as you appear to, Mr Redwood), what good does it do? You haven’t the power to change anything.

    This and subsequent UK Governments have clearly demonstrated that they are not to be trusted to do the right thing for Britons, pandering to the EU is your priority. Worse still, the incredible mess that we find ourselves in has clearly proven that you lot are completely incompetent. In the real world, most of you would have been sacked by now.

    Just leave leave things alone.

    Haven’t you made enough of a mess of things already?

    Reply: You and I agree that Brussels has far too much power for our liking, but nonetheless the UK government still has considerable powers and control over massive budgets, so we do need a government to handle that.

    • APL
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      JR: “but nonetheless the UK government still has considerable powers and control over massive budgets, so we do need a government to handle that.”

      Both the Commons and the HOL could take the next thirty years off and devastate another hapless economy and we’d not notice the difference, the Civil Service would seamlessly take its instructions from its master in Brussels the European Union Civil Service.

  7. stred
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    We seem to have a government where legislation is largely put forward by a distant office of commissioners and supported by civil ‘servants’, then rubber stamped by dim witted voting fodder with a previous career in PR. (yourself excepted) Do we need more?

    An elected Lords would be selected in the same way and we would find it filled with the same sort person as those MPs who are ministers in DECC. These have been chosen for their perceived talents in public relations, which is a ‘profession’ created to lie when the truth has to be manipulated. The head of government has been chosen for his PR expertise and the previous PM even chose one for his wife.

    It would be good to have a second chamber composed of unpaid members of the public for a limited period, but chosen for expertise in a subject and disbarred if they had ever been a member of a political party.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      We could get the National Lottery to select 300 members of the electorate; I expect we could get enough volunteers – at £300 a day!

  8. lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The Lords is not without its problems but now is certainly not the time.

    One of the advantages of the Lords is that Lords cannot be removed once put in the house and so can sometimes do the right thing even when it is unpopular. The problem is that the mechanism for any reform of the Lords (the Parties, self interested politics and the House of Commons, and the current voting numbers) is rather unlikely to ever deliver a better system. Rather a catch 22 as usual alas.

    I rather like the fact that they cannot be removed (but some age cut off would perhaps be sensible – as it would in all employment (one of Cameron’s recent idiocies). The other problem is that people appointed are always the wrong ones. You get religious leaders never Richard Dawkins types, you get preachers of green tosh (now already proven to be nonsense by events so far). Rarely are solid scientists or sensible honest business people admitted. You get people chosen clearly solely because they are know on tv, female or just from a certain visible section of a community. As if they were choosing chocolates for a chocolate box selection but clearly regardless of any true merit.

    I want to see intelligence, real science and logic not religion, the politics of envy and childish appeals to base emotions as is alas so common. Game theory need to apply so that the power system is more likely to provide the best out come for the people. Rather than as now let the powers that be play the systems for personal benefit, a career or just personal irrational prejudices.

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Generally agree.

      An enforcement retirement at 70 for Peers would be an easy route and the effect could be significant.

  9. Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Shame none of them give a monkeys about this dog’s breakfast this government is making of education.

    It seems the only people who do are the non-selected peers.

    I think ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson should be required reading for the lot of them.

    • Mike Stallard
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      I love the smile!

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 2:10 am | Permalink

      I think the most important thing is to educate people (about 60) approaching retirement about what lies ahead. The set books should be:

      Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift – the bit about the immortal Struldbruggs in
      ‘A Voyage to Laputa’
      ‘After Many a Summer’ by Aldous Huxley
      ‘Ending Up’ by Kingsley Amis
      ‘The Old Devils’ by Kingsley Amis

      An examination might be held in school buildings during the summer holidays. There should also be some practical questions, for example:
      Q1 What proportion of people living to 85 suffer from Alzheimers? A1 One fifth
      Q2 If you squander your children’s inheritance, what use have you been to humanity? A2 Llareggub
      Q3 How much is a one way ticket to Switzerland? A3 A lot less than 24 hour care for someone who has lost his/her marbles.

  10. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Well, well, well; we do live in interesting times.

    It will be interesting to see how the Conservative front bench reacts to such unity from its Parliamentary party.

    If the Parliamentary party win this one it will be interesting to see if they get a taste for unified action, and what they take on next.

    It will be amusing to see how the LibDems react!

  11. Mark Slater
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Restoration of hereditary peers and a mass eviction of Blair’s House of Cronies will only be acceptable if there is a more democratic replacement. Surely Conservative MPs must accept that reform of the Lords is necessary to undo Blair’s half cocked vandalism of the constitution?

    Mr Redwood, please consider this, the House of Commons has been unable to bring about a referendum on EU membership and I warrant will never do so without the agreement of government.

    On the other hand, a better constituted upper house might, just might, alter the balance of power and make such a referendum more possible?

    Would you accept that reform of the Lords and restoration of sovereignty are two sides of the same coin? A new constitutional settlement that perhaps helps resolve the new Union where Scots MPs must not be allowed to meddle in English matters but Scottish voices in Westminster are given a new democratic forum?

    It seems to me that the exercising of narrow Commons interests against a more legitimate upper house is both short sighted and most unwise.

  12. Freeborn John
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The arguments for an elected House of Lords are very strong and it makes sense that the voting method and timing of the elections differs from that used to elect the Commons so that we get two distinct chambers. The public rejected AV last year and not PR so PR makes sense for the second and weaker chamber allowing a wider range of of opinion than the FPTP used to elect the chamber whose majority decides the executive.

    The Conservative party, particularly at a time when it is led by Old Etonians should not shy away from progressive change that will modernise and improve our democracy.

    • Mark
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I’ve yet to see cogent arguments for an elected Lords that wouldn’t be equally well satisfied by its abolition. The thought of replicating the Commons except filling it with those already rejected by voters via PR list systems and having a chamber where small minorities can extract large concessions because they are under no imminent threat of elections is somewhat horrifying.

      Please note that the guarantee of a five year Parliament has emboldened the Lib Dems to pursue measures that have seen their poll ratings fall to all time lows, accounting for under 5% of the electorate after allowing for those who cannot find anyone to vote for.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

        Mark,

        I haven’t seen the arguments for election vs abolition, so I’ll guess instead:-

        1. The need for scrutinising house rather than abolition:

        Limited confidence that the reading, reporting and committee stages in the Commons are suitably robust, expert and not susceptible to 5 year re-election thinking. [E.g. will Commons' focus on holding executive to account rather then new bills, will expert comment in committee stage interact with patronage, will the focus be on short-term re-election ... where is the 'NPV' in populist politics?]

        2. Need for second house to be non-appointed / non-FPtP

        If house is appointed / FPtP then there is a route for too much party politics and too little cross-benching + expertise. So assuming purpose is scrutiny-revision then appointment/election needs to increase likelihood of cross-benching + expertise. Presumably an argument for PR is to increase cross-benching, it may not though increase expertise. A move towards discipline/association based constituency definitions rather than geographic (see DavidJohnWilson post above) might support both cross-benching and expertise.

        It might be that the current debate is not only messed up by party politics but also that (assuming the role of the second chamber is defined) there is no a priori clear answer to the best approach to its membership, but unfortunatley Commons’ MPs may not have the ability to reframe the issue into establishing a process to evolve to an improved second chamber.

    • norman
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      i agee, especially about staggered elections. anything that can put a brake on government is a good thing. how nice it would be to have an election on December first to show the government what we think. not that it would make any difference politically as we’vs had no change from the last governments policies so continuity brown could continue along his not so merry way.

      would also take the wind out of labour’s sails as the too much too fast line would be exposed as they passed budgets with no real changes.

  13. julian
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    They are right it is not important now. When it is time can we ask: Do we really have to have a 2nd chamber?

  14. oldtimer
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I agree with your view that a major reform of the House of Lords is an irrelevance right now. There are far bigger issues that need attention from the political class. Much more thought needs to be given to the role and relationship of the HoL with the Commons, how one becomes a member, its composition and whether membership is for life or a fixed term. These issues are wide open. There is no case whatsoever for bringing forward a Bill at this time.

    No doubt there would be much political bargaining to gain perceived advantages; this would be an unwanted distraction, is unlikely to be agreed and would quickly descend into name calling and recrimination. We have enough of that already from politicians without adding this proposal to the multiple other reasons for unseemly squabbles.

    It is increasingly obvious that this coalition has lost its touch (if indeed it ever had one). Recent events lead me to conclude that it is not up to the job it has. There is a want of sound judgement. The sooner it ends the better.

  15. Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    The Lords has lost its historic rationale and failed to find a new, cogent role. Hasty reform that’s politically motivated will only make things worse. To do Lords-reform properly, we need better to understand (and agree upon) what we are as a nation. Which territory do we rule, how do we govern it, what is the role of crown, parliament and people, and are we independent? BTW, one role for an upper house might be safeguarding our base-laws. If we agree to elections to parliament, there’s no point in having another chamber that’s also elected and can block laws.

  16. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    As to ” I now read that this “rebellion” had some official stimulus”, could it be not so much a “stimulus” as warm reaction. After all, at some point before the next general election the Conservatives and the LibDems are going to have to start fighting each other, and the closer to the election the more fighting and less coalition we will see.

    Could it be Cameron rather likes the idea of an excuse to cut and run, given that on current trends the longer he leaves it the worse the Conservative electoral prospects become?

    Or is he thinking back to the last time he said a big NO, and how that suddenly improved his popularity.

    • Mark
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      The recent polling damage is self-inflicted. Many of the same topics that damaged poll ratings in the 2010 General Election campaign have once again been at the fore. Then it seemed that Cameron preferred a coalition to a majority government, and threw his polling lead to achieve it.

      Now it is possible that Cameron wishes to construct an exit for himself because he realises that the EU and the economy are not salvageable on the present course, and he would rather the blame for that lie elsewhere when it actually happens.

  17. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    JR: “I have never seen the Conservative Parliamentary party so at variance with its front bench on a single issue.”

    This is very revealing. I am sure your collegues were accurate when : “All reported a complete lack of interest from constituents in this cause.”. However, we can assume therefore that, despite its failings on the economy, planning to increase the national debt by at least 80%, spending increases instead of reductions, continuing high immigration, overseas aid, EU and IMF contributions, failing to deport immigrants whilst assiduosly extraditing UK citizens ……, we can expect no serious challenge from Conservative MPs to the government policies which ARE of interest to constituents. Further confirmation that there is no point in voting Conservative. Generally speaking the House of Lords as currently constructed performs much better than those in the elected chamber. What does that tell us?

  18. alan jutson
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Thank you for allowing us an insight into the workings of the Conservative Party, I have to admit I did not realise that such meetings were so regular.

    Whilst no action clearly has to be taken by Ministers to the feedback they get from such an organisation as the1922 committee, the arrangement you describe at least shows that the backbenchers in your party have some way to vent their feelings on a regular basis to the Policy makers.

    Given the amount of cock ups made so recently with regard to announcements and policy ideas, the thought of introducing yet another unclear policy on House or Lords reform at the moment, would fill me with horror.

  19. MajorFrustration
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Reforming the HoL is akin to the cycle shed syndrone. Everybody knows how to build a cycle shed but few want to tackle the larger building projects – like the economy, immigration, law and order, waste in Governemnt. Same old same old.

  20. Acorn
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Why do we need a House of Lords anyway? It does not have the powers of a proper “senate”. UK legislation does not have to “pass” in both houses. It causes Bills to have multiple amendments, badly designed and hastily constructed. That lead to a present farce of a Home Secretary spending twelve years trying to deport one alleged terrorist middle eastern cleric.

    Bicameral parliaments waste time and duplicate committees and staff costs. If bicameral legislatures are such a good thing, why do we not have them at County and Unitary council level? Of the 190 states that have something that looks like a government, only 77 have bicameral legislatures. The other 113 have unicameral legislatures. The UK does not have – and likely never will – a modern federal structure, it does not need separate “state” representatives at a senate level.

    What makes the UK the worst of the old style bicameral is; they are not elected; there is no limit on their number; there is no term limit and they can be paid lobbyists one day, and vote on the same matter the next day.

    The bit I really object to is the fact that I had to pay for both my late parents to go into nursing homes. Why do old politicians and the “1%”, get paid to go into the best elderly day-care facility in the country?

  21. merlin
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    House of Lords reform- my initial reaction is I don’t believe it!! ( sorry about the cliche). This to me should not be a priority, and at the bottom of the list, there are far more important things for this government to be concerned about. The impression I have received is that this reform has been instigated to keep the Liberal Democrats content and is a political manoeuvre. Under Blair the House of Lords was stuffed with Blair’s cronies which appears to have been the last reform. I was perfectly happy with the traditional house of Lord including hereditary peerages, in fact if they are going to alter the house of Lords how about it going back to the way it was before, but this will not happen since we always have to modernise things. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I listened to a russian commentator on Sky last night who suggested the whole thing is a plot to undermine and remove the monarchy by replacing the hereditary peers. The russian view is that having hereditary, unelected peers is good for our democracy. Long may the hereditary principle continue. Permanent change is inevitable but please, leave the house of Lords alone.

  22. Leslie Singleton
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    First, apart from the fact that I do not want either of them, I see little resemblance between AV and PR.

    Secondly, in this high tech age there is no need for electionsl–the days when they were the only way to proceed are long gone. I’ve never yet read anything even half way convincing why more referenda would not be a good thing–like the Swiss. Personally I couldn’t care less what MP’s think.

    Thirdly, I get fed up listening to all the never-ending and ineffective palaver from our elected representatives. To make the point, if we once more had an absolute monarchy that idiot who disrupted the Boat Race and a few others might have had theit heads summarily chopped off and Good Riddance.

    Fourthly, the main driver behind the ghastly Liberals wanting to do down The House of Lords is their hatred pure and simple of the traditional family and the never ending but impossible desire to seek to make men and women, and homosexuals for that matter, not just equal but identical in all respects.

    Finally, Dear God, do we really have to follow the Americans (just as with The Supreme Court) and have a Senate? Hard to believe for some of us. The Constitution has been ruined enough which is not a reason for ruining it completely.

  23. lifelogic
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    As I see it the main problem is the wrong people are put in to the Lords and for entirely the wrong reasons. Often they have either they (have been useful and generous to political parties-ed) or they have grovelled and toed the party line or they are they for “diversity” reasons or as a TV evangelist for a green or similar religion rather than real ability and integrity. The hereditary system at least avoided this. Though it did often meant the incumbents were rather out of touch with the real world and most normal peoples lives.

  24. Mark
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Are the last four words of the post redundant?

  25. Posted April 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    It would be amusing to know what Osborne said to the committee after his budget. Did you ask him ‘went the day well?’ Or – ‘did you think that one through, George?’

    In re the Lords, it would be instructive to know how many of the 750 of them (that figure is probably out-of-date….) actually contribute to the deliberations.

  26. Matthew
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    If the government went through a check list of priorities, reform of the second chamber shouldn’t feature.
    It would rank behind fixing the banks, necessary for economic growth
    – The time it would take
    – The fights over seniority, if both houses are elected
    – The Lib – Dems attempting to re-introduce PR

    To start on this process, a lot of people would turn away from politics.

  27. forthurst
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    One has to suppose the government is scrabbling around for issues as window dressing which have not already been decided in Brussels. As we stay in the EUSSR, our nation is scheduled for total dissolution so why will we need any national fora at all? The free movement of people is clearly designed to create a majority (of recently arrived people -ed)in every erstwhile country, so why would the (long term residents-ed) wish to be associated with it anyhow?

  28. BobE
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    When will we get a muslim PM?

  29. Barbara Stevens
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Its not only Tory MPs who feel change is needed, but I agree now is not the time. What we do need is to leave the present arrangement as it is, but we need to reduce the numbers of Lords and Ladies, we now have the silly amount of 800+ which all claim money, when they attend, what for?
    Leaving the present system in place will stop conflict of interest with parliament, if we have elected Lords it will happen and cause a crisis of power between the two. Its the numbers people object to and it’s ever increasing. I think a retirement age of 75 is reasonable, if they still want to attend the Lords they can but under their own expense. The money they claim for attendance is a silly amount and open to abuse, and the time spent in the House should be recorded, perhaps signing in and out. Being there for a few hours or less and claiming money is abuse of power and wrong.
    If we are all in it together then this is the best way of doing it. However, changing just because it’s a Lib Dem whim I don’t think so, it’s not the time. I’m against elected Lords and Ladies, but I strongly feel retirement age should be brought in there are far to many of them now. After all what do they do most of them, sleep and nod off. I like the present system it’s worked well for hundreds of years, but like I said its time we reduced the amount attending and getting paid.

  30. uanime5
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    The House of Lords is in need of reform because it is useless in its current form. As the Prime Minister is able to create as many Lords as they want to ensure their legislation is passed (Cameron created 150 new Lords upon taking office) and it can be ignored bypassed using the Parliament Acts it is simply unable to act as a check or balance on the powers of the Commons.

    The first problem can be resolved by replacing the 800 Lords with 300 democratically elected senators. This will prevent the Prime Minister from controlling the composition of the upper chamber and make it more independent of the Commons. It’s also likely to be cheaper as it greatly reduced the number of people in the upper chamber. The only was it could be more expensive is if most of the Lords are always absent, rather than doing their job.

    The second problem can be resolved by repealing the Parliament Acts. While they made sense back when the Lords was composed of hereditary peers and the Commons was democratically elected they cannot be justified when both houses are democratically elected. This will ensure that the Senate will be an effective check and balance on the power of the Commons, rather than rubber stamping everything that comes from the Commons.

    Given that there wasn’t a referendum on removing hereditary peers or the Parliament acts, despite the major effects they had on the House of Lords, there’s no precedent for having a referendum on reform of the Lords. Also as a referendum on Europe was recently defeated in the Commons there’s no justification for having another one.

    While the Alternative Vote (AV) was rejected it is grossly misleading to claim that all forms of proportional representation were rejected since the electorate was not allowed to vote on Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Proportional Representation (PR). Given that STV is used for electing MSPs and AMs, and PR is used to elect MEPs it seems that the public hasn’t rejected all forms of proportional representation.

    Finally it’s no surprise that MPs oppose any changes to the Lords given that’s it’s effectively a retirement home for failed MPs. Having to be elected as a senator, rather than be appointed as a Lord, will effectively derail the Westminster gravy train.

  31. David Saunders
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    A cynic might say that as the three main parties are in agreement about the House of Commons acting as a branch office of Brussels and now considering further erosion of primacy by electing the House of Lords, what remainig purpose is there in the House of Commons?

  32. Posted April 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    The public did not reject PR in a referendum.

    PR was not on the agenda, purely and simply because the Conservative party would not allow it to be. The Conservative Party would not allow it purely and simply because they thought we would vote for it – there can be no other credible reason for refusing it.

    Whether it would be best to have PR limited to the Lords is a different question. There can be no doubt that any chamber whose membership closely reflected the people’s votes would be considered more democratic and legitimate and one can see why the Commons would not wish to be the minor chamber.

    There are some now arguing that division between UKIP and the Conservatives risks splitting the fre market (or even “euro-sceptic” vote and letting in Labour. This is obviously not an argument that can honourably be used by any politician who has oblected to having elections which reflect the diversity of public opinion. Any Conservative who actually feels that way has no alternative but to publicly advocate that Conservatives do not contest any seat in which UKIP is standing to prevent splitting the vote.

  33. David John Wilson
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    If the house of Lords is to be revised it must provide a distinctive democratic house not a copy of the commons. There are a number of ways in which this could be provided but proportional representation is unlikely to provide anything different.

    Personally I am in favour of a scheme whereby the one hundred (say) largest distinct democratically elected bodies in the country would each provide one (or possibly more) members of the house. We would thus find the churches, the unions, individual political parties, the universities. the FA etc. each having their own members

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      DavidJohnWilson,

      What does “distinct democratically elected bodies” mean? Does “distinct” refer to ‘non-overlapping’ or to ‘contrasting to the extant’?.

      However your point that the scrutinising/revising house could, if elected, define its constituency identities differently to a geographic based one is interesting. Personally I would be apprehensive about identity based politics creeping in, but the general idea is appealing.

  34. Posted April 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Such political idiocy is the stuff rebellions kick off from. Let’s hope “old Tin Ear” stays on-course & provokes a real firestorm! Reforming this absurd coalition & kicking DC over the side is priority one…what utter folly.

  35. John
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Reform of the HoL is of little interest to the electorate, especially those who bother to vote. The Blair reforms were foolish in that they had no clear objective save to remove the Tory ‘old guard’. The advantage of an unelected second house is that it can bring expertise and experience to a bill but has no democratic mandate to overule the Commons. The moment we give the Lords a democratic mandate, we face a war between two houses, especially so that the elective system will be different for both houses. There has been enough tinkering with the ‘system’. The Commons must focus on the real problems we have in front of us – the economy, the EU, defence and the bloated welfare state.

  36. william
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    100 percent elected HoL,election 2 years after any GE,2oo members,previous MPs disqualified from standing as candidates,same powers as today.

  37. Chris
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    It is a tragedy that MPs did not show this level of concern about an issue that poses the single greatest threat to to the survival and prosperity of a sovereign UK i.e . the complete invasion of the EU into the way we are governed and the way we live our lives. Reform of the House of Lords and their powers pales into insignificance when compared with the almost total power that the EU holds over us now, both directly and indirectly. Curtailing, and eventually removing that power, which is being wielded by unelected bureaucrats from a political elite based in Brussels, should be the immediate focus of intense scrutiny and decisive action by our MPs. The very fact that the government prioritises the reforming the House of Lords at a time like this is reveals all one needs to know about this government – it is apparently contemptuous of the electorate and their cocncerns, and it seems to lack the political nous, intelligence and courage o to identify and deal with the critical issues that are facing our country. I feel strongly that the time has come for Conservative MPs to step out of the shadows and adopt a principled stand on the fundamental issues facing this country. Too few have been willing to do this, with the rest apparently following the metropolitan elite agenda of the leadership, with the focus on chasing the elusive left of centre voter, who apparently cannot be upset by anything that remotely resembles a nasty policy.

    Reply: Indeed – 81 Conservatives did vote for an EU referendum against a 3 line whip, and 9 more refused to vote against it though told to do so.

  38. Leslie Singleton
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Unless what I just read in the article by Paul Goodman in Tory Diary (I believe it’s called) is a load of lies, which would seem unlikely, one has to ask if there are no depths that the buffoons in No 10 cannot plumb. It is simply terrible that everybody, including the wretched Liberals who of course have a self serving role in reform, knows that the percentage of the people calling for reform of the Lords is a good working definition of zero yet the equally wretched Tories are seeking to go along with it. I wish UKIP well.

  39. Badgerbill
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    The majority could not give a toss about the reform! It is something that does not affect the majority. It is confined to the limits of parliement square. An issue that has nothing to do with shopping or football or the essential things that involve honest people who pay their taxes and struggle to make their way through life despite the difficulties that parliament impose upon them!

  40. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Summary of comments:
    If you mention gay marriage, the EU or economic viability, you get hundreds of comments. The fact that there are so few on this subject ought to tell us all something important.

  41. Sue Doughty
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes, leave the House of Lords be for now. It is class politics at its worst and we have no time for that. If the Lib Dems want change the government must go for a referendum and see what we think about it. But what would be the question?

  42. Phil Richmond
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    John – Conservative MPs should be very worried about losing there seats if they dont get rid of Cameron.
    I for one (a once loyal Tory member) has recruited numerous people to UKIP. You know what to do.

  43. Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    For the Government to be considering the reform of the House of Lords at this time just gives the impression to the general public of “Nero fiddling whilst Rome Burns”, or in this case Cameron dealing with every matter except those which really matter to the public.
    I believe this is yet another distraction, along with such issues as gay marriage, etc., to take the public’s mind away from the real issues of the day, in particular the EU, the Economy and immigration. It is matters like these which worry the public, other matters can be dealt with once these have been sorted out.

    But then, as Helena Bonham Carter claims in today’s Telegraph, “David Cameron is not a ‘right wing person'”.

  44. rose
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    What can we give the DPM to keep him happy and out of harm’s way? How about appointing him ambassador to Madrid?

  45. Patrick LOaring
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I have never viewed proportional representation as democratic. The principal that a list of party candidates is drawn up by each party and the votes cast for each party determines how many are elected from each starting at the top of each party list. So, we would have the exact scenario as we have with the Euro elections where we have several people saying that they are our Euro MEP. In this PR system No individual is accountable to the electorate. They are only accountable to their party bosses. At least with “first past the post” it is possible to get rid of an MP as has happened spectacularly in recent elections. PR has been a Liberal Party (now Lib Dems) cause since before Noah built his ark because that was the only way they could see to increase their MP’s and gain power and then along came a hung parliament and now we see exactly what PR would bring to governence of our country!

    • Caterpillar
      Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

      Patrick LOaring,

      I think your criticism of PR through only party lists has validity, but thus is why PR does not have to work by a purely party list approach, for example the system of two vote MMP overcomes many of the criticisms. It is still possible to have half or even more MPs elected by FPP at a constituency level (double the size of each constituency), a second party vote then ‘tops up’ proportionately from party lists.

      [For the party list contributions it is possible to include additional rules e.g. only allowed to be list elected twice.]

  46. Alan Wheatley
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    On the Sunday Politics today Nick Clegg was asked by Andrew Neal why he was against offering a referendum on Lords Reform. The reply was that as reform was in the manifestos of all three main parties at the last general election and because all three parties are agreed there should be Lords Reform, there was no need to put the issue to the citizens. Neal did not take him to task on his reason, which was disappointing.

    To my mind the reasons Clegg gave for not having a referendum are the reason for having a referendum.

    As the three main parties offered the same in their manifestos the electors were not offer a chance to express a choice through their votes at the election. Similarly, as all three parties are agree that there should be reform there is again no choice available to the citizens.

    So in other words, Clegg likes the idea of a party political cartel without the inconvenience and potential troubles of taking account of the views of the people they claim to represent.

    Reply: I was asked about it during the election. I said I did not regard Lords Reform as a priority, and agreed with David Cameron who had once said it was a “Third term priority”

  47. merlin
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    To put it very simply once again-what are the reforms that really are important and are actually happening as I type this contribution:-

    1) educational reform- very important but in my opinion it does not go far enough, basically the return of selection is necessary.

    2) welfare reform again this is actually happening and the basic idea behind it is that most people who can work should work, the something for nothing culture is not beneficial for the future prosperity of this great country

    3) Economic reform-we have the biggest public deficit in the whole of our history caused by Labour this has to be paid back ASAP

    The above reforms are essential as is the return to this country of our own independence which was surrendered by the conservative traitor Edward Heath.

    House of Lords reform-my prediction nothing will happen, smoke and mirrors.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      1) Given that selection was mostly to give middle class children a better education than working class children it is more likely to make the problem worse, not better.

      2) Unless there are enough jobs for everyone you can’t expect everyone who can work to work.

      3) The financial crash caused by the banks caused the huge deficit, not Labour.

  48. Steven Whitfield
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Liberal democrat tail wagging the dog again.

    Good call Mr Redwood you and your colleagues are in tune with public opinion unlike the Leadership .Nobody is seriously concerned about reform of the House of Lords aside from a few political class warriors – it’s another dead duck policy.

    I suspect the reform bill will be implemented if Cameron decides that he is in danger of having an outright majority at the next election and losing his Lib Dem shield.

    It looks seriouly indulgent to be putting petty class prejudices before preventing national bankruptcy so it’s an effective tool for the leadership to further erode the core vote. Hopefully Conservative Mp’s in danger of losing their seat will rebel and block the reform bill but it seems unlikely.

  49. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    What we don’t want is a House of Lords full of placemen, put there by the two front benches and rubber stamped by the Queen. What is a two time reject like Kinnoch (and his missus!) doing there?

    My preference is for 50% elected, 50% hereditary, with limited delaying powers – one year is about right. If the elected portion is as high as 80%, you have to introduce American style checks and balances, otherwise it is only a matter of time before there is a conflict between Lords and Commons.

    • uanime5
      Posted April 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      You do realise that the American style checks and balances allow the Senate to block the House of Representatives indefinitely to prevent the House from abusing their powers. If the Lords can’t conflict with the Commons then it’s useless.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted April 24, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        You love the wrong sorts of conflict. Where we need more conflicts is between our Government and the EU, between our courts and the European courts, and between House of Commons back benchers and the front benches.

        You may not remember the most famous defeat incurred by the two front benches in attempting to ‘reform’ the House of Lords by stuffing it with placemen. The unholiest alliance of them all, Enoch Powell and Michael Foot, organised a monumental filibuster and the front benches were too ‘frit’ to apply a guillotine. The funniest part was the end game. Edward Heath said “We have just been defeated by an alliance between a man who wants to abolish the House of Lords and a man who wants to return it to the way it was in the fourteenth century.” Yeah, right on, Ted. Then Harold Wilson the PM ran through his remarks withdrawing the proposals at about 100 miles an hour. “Eat them more slowly” bellowed Enoch across the floor. Collapse of stout party.

        We don’t make them like that any more.

  50. Stephen O
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I would like to see the government drop plans for HoL reform, not because I think it is unimportant, but because I expect it to be almost certain to make matters worse.

    It is important because government should be both representative (and so legitimate in the eyes of the people) and competent (efficient, expert and of sound judgement). The selection of the HoC should prioritise the representative aspect and the HoL gives an opportunity to prioritise the competent aspect (which desperately needs improving).

    Lords membership ideally should be heavily drawn from those with real expertise, such as scientists, academics, those who have run major businesses (& small ones) from a variety of sectors, former diplomats, Civil servants, military chiefs (perhaps former NCOs too), accountants, some moralists and philosophers etc. Each one should be one of the best in their own area. If a selection process can be devised that will be unbiased enough to achieve this, great, otherwise we might need to look at electorates of scientists, diplomats etc to choose them, or some combination of the two.

    When I hear politician say the HoL should be more representative, I just think ‘oh no, they are going to fill with tired, ignorant, old party hacks’. More of the same, only worse.

    From you comments it sounds like there are some good thoughts on how reform might be done in the Tory party, but these are in a minority in parliament as a whole and perhaps even within the Tory party. As Nick Clegg is running with this my expectation is that like Tony Blair’s reforms the final proposal will move us further away from the ideal HoL than we are today. Therefore I hope HoL reform will be dropped.

  51. J Mitchell
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    This issue is another poisonous legacy of the last Labour government. When they came to power they knew that they did not like the existing House of Lords. Indeed, it was quite possible to make coherent arguments against its constitution on the grounds of the lack of democratic mandate. However, they had no idea what it was that they wanted to put in its place; they knew only that they did not like the status quo. We are left with a situation where the upper chamber has been stuffed with placemen and is even less democratic that the previously constituted upper chamber. At least the previous arrangement, whatever its constitutional faults on an intellectual level, worked. The hereditary peers did not routinely wreck Labour governent legislation. They were fair to both parties on that count. The hereditary principle is important in our constitution; it applies to the Head of State. Attack it in Parliament and you attack the monarchy. Also the unelected status of the peers meant that they could afford to, and did, take a long view of legislative proposals. History has shown that on almost every occasion when legislation was passed at the behest of the Commons against the will of the Lords, the Lords were proved right; the contested legislation was often repealed a fairly short time afterwards. The fact that the Lords was not an elected chamber meant that it did respect the will of the Commons.

    Therefore it seems to me that we are confronted with a choice: either we repeal the Labour “reforms” and go back to the status quo ante, which is probably not politically acceptable, notwithstanding that the system did in fact work, or we move to a wholly elected upper chamber, which is the only intellectually honest outcome if you want a democratic solution. Any hybrid is an intellectually dishonest fix.

    Given that it is probably politically impossible to return to the status quo ante, I consider that the best solution would be for the upper chamber to be wholly elected, with peers serving fixed terms of 6 years and retiring in rotation every 2 years. The elections could be held with the local elections; so there would be no need for vastly increased costs. The role of the upper house would have to be enshrined in statute with primacy being given to the Commons to reflect what is presently seen as the constitutional role of the Lords and to prevent any contest between the two houses both claiming a mandate.

    JM

  52. Atlas
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Any proposals will need a Referendum at the very least. I would consider carefully a proposal for an Upper Chamber with powers that can stop bad legislation. If what Clegg is proposing is just another rebranding of the present supine state of affairs then he can forget it.

  53. rose
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    What is the reformers’ hidden agenda here?
    I would suggest
    1) to bring in PR and thus get the liberals into power permanently and
    2) to get a republic.

    How can you get rid of the Lords spiritual and temporal as we have known them, on top of getting the law lords out, and presumably the sealords too, and the generals, and other distinguished peoplewho serve the public, without damaging the plausibility of the monarchy?

    The crazy notion that election is the only legitimate qualification for government and administration needs to be checked before it goes any further. The PM didn’t fall for the nonsense over AV and PR so why is he falling for this? Unless of course he is playing a diplomatic game to hang on to the Liberals, and hoping the bill will eventually fall.

  54. Steven Whitfield
    Posted April 27, 2012 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    I hope the 1922 commitee is similarly perplexed by David Cameron’s determination to implement same sex marriage. We have also had distractions from the unnecessary row over international aid, the jerry can debacle, unwanted house of lords reform…it’s not surprising that the perception is that the government’s eye has been off the ball.

    But these are just symptoms of the main problem

    The ‘modernisers’ , by moving left towards Labour onto the so called centre ground, has had the effect of moving the centre further to the left, thus alienating the core voters. So many views that were mainstream a few years ago are now considered ‘extreme’ by the political class.

    Mr Redwood, why hasn’t the 1922 committee been more effective as it is supposed to be better in touch with grass roots feeling – perhaps it needs to assert it’s authority more convincingly ?.It can’t be an easy task s the PM seems to react very badly to criticism.

    One can only hope that David Cameron doesn’t decend into the foul tempered anger of Brown or the unyielding self righteousness of Tony Blair when confronted by his critics.

    Perhaps some of the more senior members should quietly take David Cameron aside and explain that Conservatives do not overturn centuries of tradition lightly. We know he thinks it’s a whizzard wheeze … ‘de-toxifying’ the Conservative brand and all that guff etc. but it’s just crass schoolboy gesture politics.

    Perhaps member of the commiteee might also ask why same sex marriage didn’t form part of the Conservative party manifesto.

    • Steven Whitfield
      Posted April 27, 2012 at 12:54 am | Permalink

      the ‘pink vote’ is about the same size as ‘UKIP’s vote….and more voters will be offended by changes to the traditional status as marriage as would stupport it. Another foolish strategic mistake by out of touch Cameron.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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