What can the government do next on Lords reform?

The government was wise to withdraw its timetable motion last night. It would have lost it.It won the main motion easily, but it is a case of I feel like I lose when I win.

The reality of the Lords Reform Bill is simple. The Coalition has no majority for it, because so many Conservatives oppose it. To get a bill through the government has to amend its proposals so that Labour continue to vote for it as they did last night, or amend it so Conservatives will back it.

Labour’s likely price for supporting the Bill is a referendum, to allow the public to be the final judges of the reform. The government seems reluctant to grant this, despite saying that Lords reform is popular with the public.

The 91 Conservatives who voted against the current proposals last night do not have a united view of what would be better. They are united merely in saying that the current proposals are not right. Some dislike the voting system chosen for the proposed elected peers, some dislike the 15 year single term, some dislike the whole idea of elected members in the second house. Many prefer Lord Steel’s proposals. They would like to slim the upper house with new rules on attendance, on appointment term limits and similar improvements.

By removing the timetable motion the government wisely acknowledged that it needs to seek a wider consensus to carry reforms through both houses. The Conservative manifesto made clear it wanted elections to Westminster to be first past the post, and made clear that a consensus had to be found before there could be any question of Lords legislation. The Conservative Manifesto did not promise to legislate for Lords reform, and ruled out the chosen voting system in the current Bill. That is why many Conservative MPs are struggling with these proposals.

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127 Comments

  1. norman
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Can’t this be put to bed or are the Lib Dems determined to inflict as much damage on the Conservative Party before 2015?

    Even Cameron will need to wake up to reality at some point when half his backbenchers are in open rebellion and as time passes and it becomes obvious there’s going to be no second term threats of sending people into the wilderness won’t cut it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      I get the impression Cameron is not looking for a second term. How could he get one? He has done nothing to get any recovery going, still no cuts in the parasitic sector, no sensible banking, further increases in poorly designed regulations, expensive fake green energy nonsense, money chucked at the PIGIS, EU and the IMF.

      But his main problem is surely the destruction of his credibility and image such as he ever had. He cannot be trusted, so anything he promises at the next election will simply not be believed. He was unable to beat the sitting duck Brown and everyone now knows he is a tax borrow and waste, pro EU socialist from top to bottom.

      The Guardian said the other day “Hollande could hardly be further away from Cameron, ideologically, economically and in his broad attitudes to Europe.”

      In fact they are very close indeed, it seems to me the main difference is Cameron is leading a party with perhaps about 100 sensible people in it who limit him very slightly. Other than that they are basically both are over regulate, tax, borrow and waste people to their very cores. Government knows best not individuals sort of people – so government should take all the money off you and slowly destroy it. Why did he ever join the Tories was it to keep his parents happy?

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        I see Mr Lansley has suggested the elderly care cap could be £100,000. But it seems it will not come in until after the next election, when Labour will be in power at this rate. So all is pie in the sky and they are very unlikely to get in or to do what they promise anyway. £100K is already 3 times the initial figures quoted so I assume it will be nearer £200K if it ever does come in.

        What happened to the £1M Inheritance Tax promise (that made the dopey Gordon Brown bottle the early election)? Perhaps when they do that and give voters the Lisbon/EU referendum then they could make some new promises. Until then just shut up please. Making and breaking promises to the electorate is surely “morally repugnant” is it not Osborne?

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        I just heard reported on radio 4 that Cameron has stated “the state spends far more than it earns”. By “earns” I assume he means extorts from tax payers, under threat of imprisonment.

        The statement says all you need to know about how Cameron thinks and why he should have got on so well with M Hollande.

        What on earth does the state ever “earn”? Only a socialist could make such a statement. What on earth is this man doing in the Tory party let alone leading it? He would surely be happier in the Lib Dems or Labour drafting more equality laws, employment laws, compiling happiness indexes, increasing taxes, “saving” the planet and reading absurd books like “The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone” or “Happiness: Lessons from a New Science or similar.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:46 am | Permalink

      It seems to me that it’s just as much the Labour party seeking to inflict damage on the coalition.

      Surely the Labour leaders could have (privately or publicly) urged the government to make changes to the programme motion so that it would have been possible for them to support it, or at least get most of their MPs to abstain on it which would have allowed it pass?

      I don’t know exactly what they’re hoping to achieve by voting for the Bill at this stage – second reading is supposed to be about the general principles of the Bill – while helping Tory rebels to impede its further progress, but one way or another it looks like deceitful and irresponsible party politics at its worst.

      • Mark
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        The irony is they will have enraged the Lib Dems, but then perhaps Miliband really isn’t in a hurry to secure government for his party.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

          Maybe they hope that the LibDems will be so enraged that they’ll react by blocking the changes to the parliamentary constituencies, which would remove the present small pro-Labour bias and replace it with a similar or somewhat larger pro-Tory bias.

          That would increase the probability of either a Labour government or a Labour-LibDem coalition government after the next election, and I don’t suppose that the LibDems would still be so enraged with Labour that they’d turn down the chance.

          It’s difficult to fathom exactly what’s going through their minds, but it’s bound to be more in the interests of the Labour party rather than the country.

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    The most important thing is to have fewer politicians and less politics, which is why I would prefer the revising chamber to be selected from the Electorate. The future of our county is too important to be entrusted to self-serving, self-selecting chancers.

    Political leaders have shown over many years that they can’t be trusted to run things properly or even honestly. Unfortunately, as they hold all the cards, the public are going to be dealt yet another dud hand.

  3. ian wragg
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Why are you wasting time on such frivolous nonesense. The country is in a mess, Cameroon is in hoc to Europe and immigration continues unabated.
    Do you really think you stand a chance at the next election on performance to date? I don’t.
    I’m glad I’ve switched my support to UKIP, at least they seem to understand what the country wants and not just on Europe.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      ian

      Guido reports yesterday.

      The European Court of Justice has ruled that all European Pensions are exempt from any form of National Taxation, and are subject only to a european social welfare contribution of 8%.

      If this is true, this is surely Tax dodging on a huge scale.

      It suggests that Mr Kinnock £96,000 and his wifes £65,000 annual pensions should therefore be tax free, I assume he also gets a form of Uk Parliamentary pension on top of this, and his wife her teachers pension as well.

      Not bad if you can get it.

      As usual its one rule for them, another for us.

      Wonder if Mr Mandleson, Mr Clegg, Mr Huhne, Mr Pattern also benefit from this arrangement.

      Meanwhile some of Equitable Life pensioners are still waiting for some compensation some 12 years later, they of course pay National tax on their pensions, as do everyone else.

      Will UKIP MEP’s contest this judgement I wonder ?

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        Indeed is this not “morally repugnant” what does Osborne think. Is it morally repugnant that Ministers get a tax free pay off like Huhne when they “resign” as a minister for personal reasons?

        Still we are “all in it together” unless you have an EU salary or EU pension or indeed a state sector pension.

      • Bob
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        @Alan J
        “Will UKIP MEP’s contest this judgement I wonder ?”

        They know as we do that this kind of “special treatment” is a typical communist tactic secure total loyalty of politicians. It’s a typical communist tactic, same in China, USSR, Cuba, DPRK etc. etc.

        Why would you expect the EU not to try to bribe UKIP?
        It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

        JR always points out, the UK voters keep on voting for more EU, so why blame UKIP? they’re doing their best, so if you want out of the EU then you best get behind them, they’re our only hope.

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

          Bob

          Not blaming UKIP at all, indeed I like what they have to say, just wonder if they agree with:

          To use your word, Bribery, and if they intend to try and do something about it.

          I agree its normal Communist type action for the elite, or chosen few (few thousand) in higher places.

          But I guess not common knowledge to the many who pay for it.

          Another reason, if we needed any more, to get out of this socialist Nightmare.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

          Indeed in effect a sort of “bribery” of MEPs, the BBC, and MPs, political parties, Unions, the state sector …. by the EU is all part of the plan or the trap design.

  4. colliemum
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I hope that for once MPs will tell the MSM hacks in Westminster Lobby and elsewhere that this ‘defeat’ is solely due to the Deputy PM.

    Quoting Willie Whitelaw, all I can say is : “Mustn’t gloat. Bad form to gloat. Mustn’t do it. No, no, no. Well I can tell you I’m gloating like Hell.”

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Can you please tell me what ‘MSM’ stands for?

      • nicol sinclair
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

        And, it’s still awaiting moderation whereas the following two posts have been allowed.

      • John C
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

        Main Stream Media usually.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Main stream media at a guess, but on a driving test, something completely different.

        Tad

      • Paul H
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

        Mainstream media.

        Basically a term used by all non-mainstream media such as this blogs to describe the largest, and usually oldest, media channels such as “dead tree press” (another blog term referring to print media) and terrestrial tele. The irony, of course, is that blogs would love to become mainstream.

  5. Pete the Bike
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    More time wasting, self absorbed, rubbish. The deficit increases daily, the mountain of debt grows, the EU staggers on to disaster, no tax or regulation cuts are even on the horizon, revelations about just how corrupt and unsustainable the monetary system is appear weekly, un-winnable wars continue undiscussed, but the most important thing that our noble leaders can find to do is argue about the best method to get more crony place men into the Lords. Well, parliament is really worth the money spent on it.

    • Bob
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Any home owner going into long term care will have to sell their family home to pay for it, despite having paid tax and National Insurance all their working lives.

      People who live off of the state for their whole lives without lifting a finger to help themselves and having paid no tax or National Insurance will get exactly the same level of care and will be required to pay nothing for it.

      To rectify this situation would cost about £1.8 bn, a fraction of the money squandered on foreign aid, which ensures that the third world is kept in poverty and never learns to stand on it’s own feet. Just like our own welfare dependent layabouts!

      UKIP has the right idea, to help the third world through trade, not handouts.

      • John C
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        It’s a fairly complicated situation with no simple answers.

        Many of the so-called ‘baby boomers’ built up the equity in their homes due to very generous MIRAS (Mortgage Interest Tax Relief at Source) payments from the government. Now abolished.

        Many of the same also had free university tuition. Now abolished.

        Many of the same who were top rate earners also had very generous tax relief on payments into their pensions. This cannot continue.

        Consider their situation with young people today. They are not going to get anywhere near the tax benefits enjoyed by their parents and grandparents.

        So, if you take the entirety of each generations tax/benefit details the older generation may not be as hard done by as many suggest.

        • Bob
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          @John C

          I doubt that anyone who bought their home after the abolition of MIRAS would agree with you.

          You assert that people who never went to university, but worked hard and invested their earnings in their home should be punished because of Labours grand plan for 50% of school leavers to go on to university to study hair styling or some equally inappropriate course.

          While people who didn’t lift a finger to help themselves or anyone else but sponged off of taxpayers and squandered their handouts on booze, ciggies and foreign holidays will be rewarded with free care.

          Your justification of this situation on economic grounds is undermined by the fact that the government are able find huge amounts of money for foreign aid, the Olympics and numerous other vanity projects.

          Yours is the politics of envy, and we all know how well that works in the long run. Ask anyone who has been forced to live under communism.

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

          John C

          But then they can pass the family wealth (less IHT) down to their children when they die.

          I seem to remember a certain Mr Major wanting a cascade of wealth to pass down the family line.

          Now the government seems to want most of it, 40% is not enough apparently.

          Even if you or your children were to spend it all the government would get 20% of it in VAT revenue.

        • alan jutson
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

          John C

          Care in old age is not complicated at all.

          You simply have the State pay for the very basic cost of needed care for everyone (scales dependent upon medical need) and if you want a better establishment or extras, you fund the difference yourself.

          The cost is peanuts in percentage terms compared to overall government spending, so do not let them kid you its otherwise.

        • The Realist
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          Sir,
          1)MIRAS was abolished in ’89 – 23 years ago and most house price inflation was in late ’90s and the last decade up to ’07.
          2) Only 6-7% went to University up to mid ’80s. There is no strong correlation between high GDP growth, ie. potential economic benefit and high levels of the population going to University.
          3)Tax benefits given on pensions gets taxed back . It encourages saving. What you should be concentrating on is cutting 40% of Government expenditure that is totally unnecessary and should be the choice of the individual. Government is a viral parasite.
          4)I am paying an effective tax rate of 70% on my income when you take into account all direct, indirect local and national taxes including consumption taxes, up to mid ’80s tax levels were not dissimilar.
          Sir the problem is simply the size of the state, a lack of political will to face people with the truth that you cannot live or borrow beyond your means and we have a huge unemployed and also uneducated underclass as a consequence of the welfare state.

  6. drakes drum
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Thank you for voting against last evening Mr Redwood.
    I am though concerned about Cameron’s reaction. The Independent are reporting that although he was there he did not vote. But it is the report in the Guardian that suggests to me that he could be cracking up. I quote:-
    “One rebel source said of Cameron, who raised his voice in front of other Tories: “The behaviour of the prime minister was disgraceful. There were a number of colleagues around Jesse. The prime minister expressed his displeasure which really shocked colleagues. All Jesse has done is be a Conservative.”

    Then this quote and I ask you can whips do this?

    “Minutes after the prime minister challenged Norman, the Tory whips sought out the rebel leader to suggest he should leave the parliamentary estate for the night. As he relaxed with fellow rebels in the Strangers’ Bar shortly after the vote, four whips entered the bar to ask him for a private word. The whips – Stephen Crabb, Philip Dunne, Bill Wiggin and James Duddridge – were said to have confronted Norman in an even more aggressive manner than the prime minister.” end quote

    • Sue
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      I’m with Drakes Drum on this one. Isn’t it MP’s jobs to vote against something which their consciences dictate are not right? How is Cameron allowed to bully those who have exercised their vote in a proper way? Why is he allowed to sack people for doing their jobs?

      He’s a bully and I hate to say again, a SOCIALIST. YOU HAVE THE WRONG LEADER!

      • Tad Davison
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

        This is one of the reasons why I could never be an MP. I’d vote the way my constituents wanted me to. Had any whips tried that on with me, I’d have reverted to type. They’d be dusting themselves off!

        Tad

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      drakes drum,
      This is Tim Montgomerie’s version of events:
      “One allegation is that four junior whips confronted Jesse Norman in a very aggressive manner and told him to leave the parliamentary estate. Norman, the ‘Captain Sensible’ leader of yesterday’s rebels, was having a drink with colleagues and was told his presence was provocative and unwelcome. In truth the four junior whips weren’t the aggressive ones. They were warning Norman and another of the lead rebels – Nadhim Zahawi – that John Randall was on the warpath. Mr Randall, the normally smooth and popular Deputy Chief Whip, had – it was said – had a few drinks and there was a theatrical suggestion he ‘might do an Eric Joyce’. In reality Mr Randall had “blown his top” but was not under any influence*. Norman and Zahawi took the advice, downed their pints and went home. ”

      By the way these are the people (etc) who think that the House of Lords needs reform!

      • Sebastian Weetabix
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

        In my naïveté I thought it was voters who decided who has a legal and constitutional right to be on the Westminster estate, not some peeved party whip. If I were Mr. Norman I would have sat it out. Who do these people think they are?

    • Chris
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

      There is some clarification/modification of this on Conservative Home by Tim Montgomerie. It may be that the situation was not quite as the Guardian reported it, although the main point, that Cameron was angry, is not disputed.

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      It’s the bloody ‘whipping’ system that is all to blame. MPs are there to represent their electorate for better, for worse etc and not simply to do the bidding of Cast Iron Dave. Another nail in the Tory coffin? And I’ve been a Unionist all my voting life – 50 long years.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        nicol,
        The irony is that this loutish behaviour is all done in the name of “democracy”. What a travesty. What right does Cameron or any of his so-called whips have to threaten a Member of Parliament and to effectively drive them out of the Palace of Westminster? Why don’t MPs tell him and his enforcers they they won’t be intimidated by such thuggish behaviour and why don’t the rest of the MPs rally to defend one of their own or are they too frightened?

  7. Alte Fritz
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Given the relative unimportance of Westminster in generating legislation, does any of it really matter?

    • Bob
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      @Alte Fritz

      “Given the relative unimportance of Westminster in generating legislation, does any of it really matter?”

      It’s does, as we need parliament to throw off the EU yoke.
      But first we need to get more decent MPs into the place and kick out the quislings. We must get rid of such things as safe seats and party whips.

      • uanime5
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

        Removing the first-past-the-post election system and replacing it with a more proportional system would be the best way to do this.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        Yes indeed but how?

      • John Wrexham
        Posted July 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

        To have an active Parliament there has to be a limit on the payroll vote, an end to guillotine motions unless they are backed by a supermajority of the house, more powers to select committees, more powers to backbenchers and the Speaker to decide the business of the house and the end of farcical habits such as government backbenchers asking brown nose questions at question time and opposition mps asking the PM whether he plans to visit their constituency or not.

  8. Freeborn John
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Surely there is scope for a deal here; Lords reform in return for LibDem support for renegotiation of EU powers.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Isn’t that a choice between the frying pan and the fire?

      • Freeborn John
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

        A democatic Lords (with less power than the Commons) and a reduction of powers for the undemocratic supranational Brussels institutions would be a win-win for the British people. Surely both the LibDems and Conservative parties can advance these twin positive agendas rather than back two status quo that are each an obscenity to the principles of liberal democracy.

        • Mike Stallard
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          You are barking up the wrong tree. Mr Clegg has a wife who is deeply into the EU. He himself thinks like an EU person. Neither of them is going to put up with nonsense about renegotiation, referenda etc. Mr Cameron will just have to go along.
          Witness Mr Clegg’s wish to rewrite the House of Lords on EU lines with PR and the assumption that they will just sit back and do what they are told like the European Parliament.
          Anyway, we have no power to renegotiate our role in the EU, hopelessly undermanned in all the Commission and Directorates, we really do have little or no say in how we are governed.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

            But after the 2013 budget is safely delivered, we can make a start on getting rid of Mr Clegg and the LibDems. And Mr Cameron must know that if he doesn’t somebody else will. A challenge for the Conservative Party leadership can be mounted in any Autumn. There will be two chances – in 2013 and 2014. It’s all to play for. A minority Conservative government can operate for about a year, taking the odd defeat or two. When do you think the LibDems will support a Labour no confidence motion? Turkeys don’t vote for Xmas.

        • The Yeoman
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

          Sir, how can one democratic entity have less power than another?

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      Free bourne John

      That would not be a deal, it would be stitch up.

      Who would want the Lib Dems proposals on HOL.

  9. lifelogic
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    The last thing this government should be doing, at this time, is arranging the house of Lords system to suit the Lib Dems. To do so without a referendum would be grossly offensive anyway and totally undemocratic. Just as all the EU treaties have been – agreed to by Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown and Cameron, all clearly against the will of the people. Which of course is clearly why the people were not asked.

    If it is being reformed can we have far fewer lawyers, fewer politicians, fewer religious people (especially the quack green ones), no people exploit the politics of envy and the forced equality/happiness agenda and more physicists, scientists, solid business people, sensible accountants, and engineers please.

    • Manof Kent
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      While many agree with the stance of the 91 rebels it should come as no surprise that the Bill was presented in the way it was.
      The Coalition Agreement provided for -a mostly elected HOL-party lists-proportional representation -lengthy 15 yr terms.
      So the LibDems have a point so far as ‘fair play’ is concerned.
      The problem was/ is that DC could not deliver his side; although no one could accuse him of not trying.
      It now seems that the Lib Dems may not even try to deliver their votes on Boundary Change but will walk away in a huff.
      Whether this will take the form of abstention or voting with Labour will be interesting.

    • nicol sinclair
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      And, perhaps fewer (un) civil servants to boot.

  10. A.Sedgwick
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    “Another fine mess you got me into Stanley!”

  11. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    The behaviour of the Labour party leaders over this is pretty questionable: as a Tory MP said on TV last night, by getting their MPs to vote for the Bill they’ve willed the end, but by declining to allow the government’s programme motion to pass they’ve denied the means.

    As a technical point, JR, is a programme motion open to amendment?

    So, putting it in the simplest terms, if the government had said “We want to allow X days for this Bill in the Commons”, could the Labour party have said “X days is insufficient, we think it should be Y days” and put down an amendment to that effect?

    Reply: Labour were asked through “the usual channels” how long they wanted for the Bill and declined to give any answer. It is usually settled by private negotiation between the main parties. Yes, a motion is usually amendable, but not a Statutory Instrument.

  12. Electro-Kevin
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Thanks to you and those who think alike on this subject.

  13. Sue
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Cut the numbers down to 300 or so. Selection is by frequency of appearance. All those who could be bothered to turn up and actively participate in the last 2 years (whatever party, appointed or hereditary) gets a seat.

    If after one year, one of them is found to be less than enthusiastic in their participation, they can be asked to step down and make room for somebody new. I suggest an application process (after all, we all have to apply for jobs). Clean slate required for all new peers.

    Lower the expenses to be more realistic, they can’t possibly need £300 for an appearance, that’s more than alot of people earn in a whole week.

    Added to which the ability to strip those who have been appointed of their peerages if they are found to be corrupt or have broken the law. Likewise with hereditary peers to lose their seat if found not to be honourable.

    • Bob
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      @Sue

      “they can be asked to step down and make room for somebody new”

      Or in Lord Prescott’s case a brace of new members.

    • John C
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      “Lower the expenses to be more realistic, they can’t possibly need £300 for an appearance, that’s more than alot of people earn in a whole week.”

      If we want people of talent to be in the House of Lords or Senate we need to pay a decent rate otherwise it would only attract the wealthy. £300 a day is not outrageous for many professions.

  14. Lord Blagger
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Except the referenda won’t allow us the choice. For example, where is the option of getting rid of them and replacing it with the electorate having the final say?

    Ah yes, its not the way we’re governed. We have to dictate to the public. We can’t allow them to control us They might stop our wages.

    “When is Vince going to insist that constituents have a vote on their MPs pay?”

    • John C
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

      “When is Vince going to insist that constituents have a vote on their MPs pay?”

      In 2015 I guess when he is back on the opposition benches and becomes reacquainted with his principles.

  15. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I am sick of listening to the sanctimonious twaddle spouted by the Lib Dems and reading about your party leader’s (sorry to use such an obvious oxymoron) feeble response. When you see him and them please tell them “It’s the economy stupid!” – thereby pointing out what the sole priority of this government should be whilst accurately describing their intelligence.

  16. oldtimer
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    The apparent collapse of this Bill is the best news to emerge yesterday. It was a squalid little measure, unworthy of the cause of HoL reform. There are other, much more pressing, priorities such as how we compete and pay our way in the world – which is what I thought this coalition was supposed to be about.

    Based on this experience and the Blair fiasco a few years ago, the chances of wholesale reform any time soon look remote. Perhaps the way forward is a series of step by step changes that a majority can agree upon – the lowest common denominator approach. For starters, it ought to be easy enough to agree that crooks should be ejected.

    • alan jutson
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      oldtimer

      I agree with you, the changes made by “the Blair fiasco” a few years ago made in my opinion the House of Lords a far worse place than it was before.

      It now appears to be no more than a home for retired Party political placemen and women, thus we have even more Party politics in the HOL than before.

      I am with those who think Party Politics should be barred from the HOL, and I would have thought Party (nominated individuals) elections for membership every 15 years would be most peoples idea of a nightmare..

      • APL
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        alan jutson: “I agree with you, the changes made by “the Blair fiasco” a few years ago made in my opinion the House of Lords a far worse place than it was before.”

        Of course it did, Blair was rotten in 1977, is still rotten today, and nothing he has touched in the intervening period is the better for the encounter.

        Do not forget either, Lord Strathclyde, supposedly a Tory, assisted Blair.

        • nicol sinclair
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          And, as far as I’m aware, Strathclyde is one of the hereditaries.

          • John C
            Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

            But Strathclyde is one of the 92 elected hereditaries.

            Only in the UK!

          • APL
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

            nicol sinclair: “And, as far as I’m aware, Strathclyde is one of the hereditaries.”

            Yes he is. But while Hague was trying to marshall the Tories in the Commons to oppose the Blair ‘reforms‘, gerrymandering, Strathclyde was negotiating behind Hagues’s back independently* of Hague to reach independent agreement with Blair.

            * Given that Hague has turned out to be a rabid a EUrophile as any of the worst the Tory party has to offer, perhaps it was all smoke and mirrors, since the Tory party establishment is rotten to the core, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

          • APL
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:08 am | Permalink

            So we have people like Strathclyde in the Lords, running with the Europhile dogs like Mandleson, Kinnock et al.

            And a fellow like Christopher Monckton sound and sensible on many issues especially the Global warming fraud and against World Government expelled from the Lords.

            What a conundrum!

      • John Wrexham
        Posted July 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        It was Viscount Cranborne who made the deal to save the 92 and Blair was canny enough to realise some change is often better than no change at all, especially when a near totally appointed house meant more patronage for him. Hague sacked Cranborne and Strathclyde was made the new leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords. Cranborne was a typically crafty Cecil politician, while Strathclyde is complacency embodied.

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    If the coalition wants to proceed with some sort of reform, it has to ask the leader of the Labour Party what his proposals are and how much parliamentary time he wants to devote to the topic. If there is no agreement on a timetable, nothing will reach the statute book (I wouldn’t be too unhappy with that).

  18. Steve Cox
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    No wonder so many journalists and commentators say that Cameron (and Osborne) are completely out of touch with ordinary people if they think that “Lords reform is popular with the public”. The economy is on the verge of collapse, our currency is a joke, the NHS is falling apart at the seams, the armed forces have been transformed into an undersized and under-equipped farce, our infrastructure is third world, the great plan to reduce the deficit has, in effect, been all but abandoned, immigration is still hopelessly out of control, the EU and its ludicrous non- and anti-democratic institutions ride roughshod over our sovereignty, the one part of our educational system of which we can be really proud – the top class universities – are under serious threat from this government, and it thinks that tinkering around with the Upper House is a “popular issue”? I despair.

    • peter davies
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Here here – couldn’t have put it better myself. This is political game playing to keep the lib dims happy.

      It all seems a waste of energy – the federalist elements would have long ago sold all our law making powers to the EUSSR in which case you wouldn’t need a House Of Lords as the Legislation would be done for us already by people we have never heard of let alone voted for.

    • Derek W
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      I could not put a real conservative point of view more succinctly.Pity we do not have a Conservative leader of the Party.

    • JimF
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Yes but this is an area they feel comfortable with as PPE graduates, whereas the economy, NHS and other things are difficult. We really need more scientists and engineers in charge, and some folk with business experience – some logic brought into this quagmire…

    • uanime5
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Given that most of the problems you listed have been caused by the Conservatives tinkering with various departments for 2 years is it any wonder that they’ve decided to do nothing and see if this fixes the problem.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Exactly though I tend to view much of our top class universities with suspicion. Particularly Oxford PPE and all those endless lawyers they churn out, that know all the law but lack much common sense.

  19. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    “By removing the timetable motion the government wisely acknowledged that it needs to seek a wider consensus to carry reforms through both houses.”

    The starting point should have been getting a consensus on what we want a second chamber to do, a clear view on what contribution it should make to the better government of the country.

    As far as the Telegraph, Times and Mail newspapers are concerned, they’ve been telling their readers for years that the Lords is just a “revising” chamber, in other words little more than a kind for proof-reading service for MPs who are too busy or too lazy or too ignorant to remove mistakes from Bills before they’re sent across to the Lords.

    In fact the author of the leading article in the last edition of the Sunday Telegraph took that to an extreme by writing this nonsense:

    “The Lords are often described as “legislators”: they are not, they are revisers of legislation, a task that does not require election to confer legitimacy.”

    I did a quick check and found that currently there are fifteen government Bills before Parliament, and five of those were started in the Lords – including of course the European Union (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill which was introduced into the Lords on May 10th and which has now been passed to the Commons – plus there are private members’ Bills which can be started in either house, although of course they rarely get through onto the statute book.

    So how can the Lords be described as just “revisers of legislation”, not “legislators”, when in those cases they are the first parliamentarians to deal with the legislation and any further revision would be done in the Commons, and when in the end both chambers must agree on exactly the same final Bill before it can receive Royal Assent and become an Act?

    Unless the Bill has started in the Commons, and determined objections from the Lords are over-ridden through the Parliament Acts.

    My own view is that we, the population as a whole, should want much more from the second chamber of our Parliament than most MPs, especially most Tory MPs, really want to allow; if we’re going to carry on electing members of the first chamber by First Past The Post, which is preferable in many ways, then we should have a second chamber which is designed and equipped to actively compensate for some of the deficiencies of that system.

    • Publius
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      The view that the only kind of legitimacy comes from election is just a modern fad, which is being used to wreck a once-solid and successful constitutional settlement.

      There are other forms of legitimacy other than election. Moreover, it is far from obvious that elections such as we have now produce the best people for the job.

      Furthermore, if election is deemed to confer legitimacy, then the more the better, no? Once a year perhaps? And what about the legitimacy of referendums?

      Mark my words, after the HOL has been dispensed with, the next target will be the monarchy.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        Well, maybe we should have a referendum on whether to restore the feudal system, which worked well for centuries …

        • John C
          Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          and China seems to be doing pretty well and they have done without democracy for 3000 years.

          • Bob
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

            @John C

            What do you think is the secret of China’s success?

            reply: Hard work, and allowing free enterprise into a command and control state.

        • Publius
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          Very silly, Dennis Cooper, and somewhat beneath you. The questions are serious, and if they are not addressed by those who have the intellect and interest to address them, then they will come back to bite us.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

            I agree that it was a very silly idea, even sillier than the idea of going back part way to the feudal system by having just hereditary peers voting on all the laws we have to obey.

            You know, those hereditary peers who were so obdurate in the defence of their vested interests that in the end the King had to intervene to get them to accept restrictions on their powers.

            Whose successors who were such staunch defenders of our glorious constitution that the European Communities Bill barely touched the sides as it went through their chamber.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Too true. Most people seem to think the Commons makes the law and the Lords is made of experts who examine it and make suggestions. In reality both the Commons and Lords rely on experts who examine the bill between the second and third reading to make suggestions, and both have the down to defeat bills.

      If the Lords was ever turned into a revising chamber it would effectively be moot because it could be ignored with impunity.

  20. Winston Smith
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    More naivety on here. Lords reform in this format or similar will happen. The LibLabCon elite and their chums running the mainstream media all support it. All the difference and rows are carefully staged and manipulated for digestion by ever gullible readers/viewers. The LibLabCon elite, the newspaper editors, those running the BBC, the leading commentators – bar a few exceptions – are in the same Metropolitan, left-leaning network. Last week, the editor of the Evening Standard had her close friend, Tony Blair, edit the newspaper and run with several articles linked to his projects. Its that (arranged-ed).

    You will only change this by voting outside LibLabCon. UKIP are presently the only option. Until, a new party emerges.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      Agreed, or until the Conservative party start being Conservative. That won’t happen in the foreseeable future. I had hoped Liam Fox might have seized the moment, but that now seems to have been just a flash in the pan, and not the re-discovery of the mother load.

      I have a hard time trying to find an area of disagreement between my own position and that of UKIP. By contrast, the policies of the present day Conservative party are more in keeping with those of the Lib Dems and the Labour party. Little wonder so many people are turned off by their brand of politics. It’s just a shame that people’s loyalties are so slow to change, otherwise, I venture, UKIP would have done so much better before now.

      I think it’s pretty clear that Cameron has lost most, if not all credibility, and his replacement is now most urgent. I am reaching for that line from our history, made famous by another parliamentarian.

      ‘You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!’

      Tad

      • Bob
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        “It’s just a shame that people’s loyalties are so slow to change…”

        A lot of conservative voters were fooled by DCs conservative posture (repatriation of power, quango bonfires, cutting red tape etc. etc.) but I don’t think they’d be so dumb to fall for it a second time around.

  21. Ross J Warren
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    I would like to see a referendum on this, as frankly I don’t believe that the public do want the Lords to contain the same type of people as the commons. As a direct result of the rebellion, I have renewed my membership of the party ( a little late) but knowing that our back benches contains so many good people is the first bit of good news we have had for a while. Thank you for doing the right thing John.

    • Chris
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      As always, it will be the exact wording of the referendum that matters and there will be no guarantee that the question will be the one that the electorate really wants to be asked.

      • lifelogic
        Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        You can guarantee that the question will not be the one that the electorate really wants to be asked that is certain.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      The Tory opponents of this load of rubbish should just concentrate on inserting a referendum clause. The electorate would vote NO. Even if they thought it a good idea, they would vote no.

  22. Robert Taggart
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    WHERE TO START ?… Where To Start ??… where to start ???…
    AH…
    Johnny. What about ‘old Malcy’s’ (Rifkind) suggestion – Abolish the remaining hereditaries ? Just a start you understand – but what a start !
    He was under the impression that such a bill would command huge support (in the Commons anyway) and would ‘sail through’. True ?
    Go on – dare you !

  23. Atlas
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    … glad events went the way they did …

    At the very least I want a referendum on any final proposal.

  24. Neil Craig
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    The LibDems would now be wise to insist on a multi-option 2 round referendum. I doubt if many in any party would vote agaionst a proposal which had won in a referendum.

    As you say those who voted against are not united in their wishes. Those who voted against because (often unadmitted) they do not want an effective 2nd chamber with a democratic mandate and are happy with power being entirely in their hands, with the Lords only a cosmetic covering, might well find that the public would go for a more radical option than this one. I previously suggested the structure I would go for and while I think that might be to radical for popularity I think that the public will go for a 100% & fully proportionally elected house with some power if we get the option.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      I too suspect that some of those who opposed this Bill did so primarily because:

      “… they do not want an effective 2nd chamber with a democratic mandate and are happy with power being entirely in their hands, with the Lords only a cosmetic covering …”.

      And I suspect that even if it hadn’t been such a flawed reform they would still have opposed it; the fact that it’s a dogs breakfast just gave them a good excuse.

    • John Wrexham
      Posted July 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Most people in this country choose not to join political parties, but these organisations dominate our electoral system viz the latest plans for police commissioners. Surely we can come up with a system of reform of the House of Lords which does not mean more party politicians, but rather people who can represent the whole variety of our society.

  25. Manof Kent
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    What a refreshing and invigorating debate last evening.
    Tremendous contributions on points of principle from both sides of the House
    but mainly from the Consevative rebels.
    Not many prepared speeches,but points well made with conviction.
    I found it rivetting -the HOC at its best!

  26. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Your “…and similar improvements” begs (assumes without warrant) the question (whether they are in fact improvements). You should say “changes”. How can it be that somebody of such small account as Clegg, with so little popular support, can be allowed to insist on a referendum for AV and then to forbid one on the Lords? Am I missing something on this? Seems bonkers to me but then so much does. I had thought the Liberals were just dissembling and lying as usual about what the Conservative Manifesto did (not) say but then I heard, I think it was Huhne, reading out the Manifesto in the Commons as if it said the opposite. Simply bizarre, given that it is hard to see how there could be less consensus than there is. Of course find a way to make the Lords smaller but what’s that got to do with the other changes? Why do we need a “Big Bang” on the Lords at all, why not do it gradually? The talk about titanic battles lost over 100 years is rubbish in itself for there of course have been many and important changes to the Lords over the last century.

  27. AndyC71
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Any reform should surely start with asking what is the Lords for? Tricky one. I’d abolish the House of Lords altogether, and instead boost the standing of the Commons, by, for example, giving Select Committees some proper functions and powers over government.

    All credit though to the Conservative MPs who voted the Lib Dem plan down. Next, sufficient numbers of your colleagues need to show some similar backbone with regard to the stuff that matters; the EU and the state of the nation’s finances.

  28. RDM
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    1) Drop PR

    2) Set out clearly The Form and Function of the new HoL:

    – Statutory maintained Primacy of HoC.
    – No executives from HoL.
    – Incorporate Parliament act.
    – No Religious members, or appoint from Religious community, including Atheists, every 5yrs.
    – Larger proportion of Appointed members, except, selected by independent Committee.

    etc …

    3) Set out time line. Declare a Constitution Day (Bank Holiday, May 5th). Election 2015.

    4) Determine weather it really is a priority. May 5th 2013, Hold Referendum, Ask the People?

    • David John Wilson
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      I like the idea that the House of Lords should decide the weather. Will they rain over us?

    • uanime5
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      1) What’s wrong with PR? It’s much fairer than FPTP.

      2) There’s no reason for the primacy of the Commons if both houses are elected. Primacy of the Commons is a bad thing because it has lead to the Commons becoming too power.

      Also the Parliament Act is already a statue. Why do you want it incorporated in any reform?

      3&4) What is the purpose of either of these? You do realise that Parliament can do several things at the same time.

      • RDM
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        What’s Right with it?

        I want as many people from the Regions representing us, who are able and willing, as possible! Wales, with less then 3% of the population, would end up with 13.5 Representatives?

        Besides, I don’t want too re-enforce regional divisions already imposed on us by Devolution ( The Referendum had less then a 40% turn out, so only 24% of Welsh people voted in favour!).

        There is deep resentment at the Protest Vote that Blair ignored, and now look at the crap he Foisted [Quote: he regretting fiddling the vote] onto us!

        Regards,

        RDM
        Has there ever has been a country called England(Angles) or Wales, just four and twelve kingdoms competing for power (Sovereignty)!
        Don’t forget; Henry VIII, and the Tudors are from one of the four, Pembroke.

        • John Wrexham
          Posted July 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          Who are these people who say they come from a region? The vast majority of people’s identities in Britain are linked to their country, nation, city, town, village or perhaps county. How many people actually describe themselves as coming from a region first and foremost?

      • Mark
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        PR hands undue power to small parties. Consider A 49 seats B 49 seats C 2 seats. C has as much power to decide what is approved as A or B: you might as well have awarded them 33 seats each. Now imagine C is BNP or UKIP or whoever is your bête noire.

        • Bob
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

          @Mark

          If A & B were Labourtory, then C would be irrelevant.

          Have you not noticed how Labour and Tory continue each others policies while pretending to be in disagreement with each other.

          It’s a technique they copied from professional wresting in the sixties.

          Jackie Pallo summed it up in the title of his autobiography “You Grunt, I’ll Groan”.

      • John Wrexham
        Posted July 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        PR is great, but party lists don’t ensure proportional ‘representation’ of the voters – but rather ensure a proportional shareout of the jobs for each party leader. STV or Multi-member constituencies might be a better option.

    • APL
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      RDM: “Drop PR”, etc

      Why reinvent the wheel, just adopt the US constitution, sans ammendments. Our own supreme court can start to accumulate our own ammendments.

      We’d have US history to see what not to do.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

        Your assumption is that the US have got it right now; I don’t share that opinion.

  29. Matthew
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Hate to say it – and know its mid term, but Ed Milliband is looking to have grown into his role rather well.

    Time that the PM started to be a bit radical, to induce a recovery, starting with RBS perhaps.

    • Ross J Warren
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Having had our rebellion, and cleared the air, it is now time for all good Conservatives to rally behind the leader. Winning the next GE is absolutely vital. This time we have to get a majority.

  30. peter davies
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Why waste so much time and energy on this? The Lords is not a perfect system but it works – so leave the things that work until someone can find a sensible way of improving them and focus of matters that have eroded our democracy like the EUSSR.

    If the Lib Dims had their way the lords would just be a rubber stamping organization in any case as all our laws would just pass through parliament and the lords by people we have never seen or voted for.

    We all know what the real issues are – the bankrupt economy and the bloated EU that is about to bankrupt all of us so lets move onto that.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      The Lord’s doesn’t work, that’s why it’s being reformed. At present it’s stuffed full of new Lords every time a new Prime Minister is elected.

      Well it’s clear you don’t have any idea what’s being proposed by the Lib Dems. They want the Lords to be democratically elected and have a greater ability to challenge the Commons, the opposite of a rubber stamping organization made up of unelected people.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:19 am | Permalink

        Both the risk of rubber stamping and the risk of deadlock come with an elected second chamber. The people elected will be asked to toe the party line, so that (for example) the LibDem factions in each House support each other. There are examples of both risks in the USA. In Lyndon Johnson’s time, his Great Society welfare programme was passed by the Democratic congress, creating a dependency culture among welfare recipients. In modern times, Barack Obama and the Republican House of Representatives cannot agree on the way to reduce America’s fiscal deficit.

  31. Alan Wheatley
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    One The world at One today the political argument put forward, without criticism, was that the Lords needed to be reformed because that would put power in the hands of the people. If that is, indeed, the objective, then I say it will not be achieved by candidates chosen on a party list system and elected for a one-off, fixed term of fifteen years. Further, I do not feel I am being given any power, I feel I am being used: far from power being in my hands it is being gather by the party leaderships.

    Presumably the party list system would not prohibit independents standing, but one has to expect their chance of election as nil, save for exceptional circumstances. And with such large “constituencies” local issues will never be a determining factor.

    So I read this approach as a means of getting rid of Cross-Benchers. This is not without precedent – removing the judges on the grounds that it reinforced their independence was more likely because it got rid of keen minds capable of independent thought.

    • lifelogic
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      Party lists are the end of any semblance of remaining democracy and usher in still further the power of the political party over the voter.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      So you feel that the Prime Minister making whoever he wants into a Lord, irrespective of the will of the people, is somehow fairer than having the people elect these Lords?

      You’d be surprised how many votes independent parties can get when the Government is unpopular, especially when the opposition is also unpopular.

      The judges were removed from the Lords because having them be part of the legislator and judiciary meant that the powers were not being separated. Besides if politicians wanted to get rid of intelligent thought in the Lords they also would have banned all scientists and business leaders.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

        Not the Prime Minister, not any other politician. Her Majesty the Queen should be in charge of Lords appointments, whether hereditary or life. Naturally, she would consult widely, with politicians way down the list of consultees. You could have some elected members of the Upper House but strictly as individuals selected by FPTP.

        • uanime5
          Posted July 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

          How is having monarch decide who should be in the Lords fair or democratic?

          Why FPTP? Why not PR which will lead to fewer wasted votes.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

            Because there is no point in the House of Lords being fair and democratic. That is what the Commons is for. The HOL has to be knowledgeable. PR based on party lists is totally unacceptable. People want a representative to be locally based, whether democratically elected or not.

            Also, you have to accept that FPTP was preferred to AV in a recent referendum by a large majority. That was a democratic decision.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        Appointments are supposed to be on merit.

        One advantage of hereditary peers is that after the first generation the person sitting IS outside the control of party patronage.

        Independents are not members of ANY party.

        Separation of powers is spin. Judges as a block had no power because they were too few. But they could have influence in debate. Their unique contribution was to be able to highlight legislation that was drafted in terms making it difficult for judges to decide the matters before them in court.

        I do not foresee scientists and business leaders featuring in party lists.

  32. Daniel T Thomas
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    At this point in the discussion its worth taking a look at the American Constitution for guidance. 350,000,000 people and just 100 Senators in their second chamber each serving a fixed 6 year term.

    Many believe that this document was based on Magna Carta and the British Bill of Rights. Perhaps its time to bring home the American Revolution.

    • wab
      Posted July 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

      The American Senate might look like a great idea from the UK, but it has serious flaws. First of all, small (generally rural, generally Republican) states have far too much power (because each state has two senators). Secondly, the Republican Party in particular has shown itself to be willing to hold the entire country ransom by insisting that pretty much nothing can pass the Senate without 60 votes, i.e. a supermajority. It’s a crazy system, and one the UK will fortunately never have. If by “worth taking a look at” you just mean the number 100, then that is a different matter.

  33. David John Wilson
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    It is not certain that reducing the number of membersof the house is a correct solution. To perform its current function there is a need to increase the number of cross benchers. This should be done by reducing the number of hereditary peers and political appointees.

    A new way needs to be found of appointing the cross benchers so that this can be done without political influence. This probably means that various outside bodies should be given the right to elect their own lord. This could vary from professional bodies to other large organisations that could include the churches, trade unions, football supporters etc.

  34. Barbara Stevens
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Well Mr R, I think the Conservatives showed some mettle at last. Indeed, it is right to throw this motion out of the window preferably into the Thames and let it flow into the distance.
    I’m against an elected second house, it will destroy the free thinking system we have enjoyed for many years and they hold the commons to account being able to freely vote. As for 15 years, elected, what idiot thought of that, if 5 years is enough for the commons then it should be enough for the Lords.
    However, it’s all waffle, if one made the Lords and Ladies retire at say 75, then we would reduce the House in one stroke, and lets face with 900 we’ve got enough left for debating with. They could still sit in the house, and vote, but at their own expense and not the taxpayers, those over 75.
    The main thing is stopping political peers appearing as fast has they have, any more should be allowed via a Lords and Commons committee, and elected to serve by merit and service to the nation. Certainly not for political leanings, this is what’s caused the over flow of members in the first place.
    I hope this bill never sees the light of day again until it is much better thought out, we don’t need an elected second chamber at all, just a reduced one. We cannot afford to keep funding these so called intellgentsa without some sort of restraint. Just retiring them at 75 would save the country money and stop the arguement in it’s tracks, simple.

  35. Bob
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Lord Tebbit sums it up well:

    “Perhaps over the summer recess the Prime Minister may cobble together a deal with his deputy Mr Clegg and the Labour Leader Mr Miliband to defeat his own Conservative backbenchers. It is an odd way to lead the Conservative Party, but perhaps Mr Cameron does not really like Conservatives very much.”

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/normantebbit/100170115/perhaps-david-cameron-does-not-really-like-conservatives-very-much/

  36. uanime5
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    As long as the Conservatives are in a Coalition they will have to agree to Lib Dems policies in order to maintain this coalition. Unless they Conservatives would prefer being defeated in Parliament by a Labour-Lib Dem alliance they need to accept that being in a Coalition means not always getting what you want.

  37. Leslie Singleton
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I’ve just read that (presumably having begun to appreciate what the Conservative Manifesto actually says) some Liberal chappie is now saying that it is the Coalition Agreement that the Conservatives must deliver but it would seem that he and his Liberal buddies have not read that either because the same doesn’t promise what he says it does–merely talking as it does about bringing forward proposals. Well that has been done so what’s the problem? And I believe the Committee on the subject recommended a referendum but of course Clegg would look even more of a no-hoper if he was comprehensively rejected again, which he well knows he would be.

  38. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 12, 2012 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Because my preferred reform would not involve any additional elections it would be relatively easy to install it for a trial period, say two Parliaments, and then if it turned out to be a bad idea we could go back to the Lords as presently constituted and start again.

    A simple Bill passed now would only have to arrange that:

    When this Parliament is dissolved, all the present members of the House of Lords are required to take leave of absence for the next two Parliaments.

    The general election is held and all the candidates who come second in their constituency polls are summoned to serve in the Lords for the duration of the next Parliament.

    The same happens at the following general election, by which time constituents have got some idea of how well their own “Second Member of Parliament” has performed, as well as some idea of how well the new system as a whole has worked.

    During that second Parliament there is a referendum to ask the people whether they want to continue with the new system, having seen it in operation for one and a half Parliaments, or they would prefer to revert to the previous system.

    If the referendum approves the new system then a new Bill is passed to confirm its indefinite continuation; if the referendum rejects the new system then all the present members of the Lords are told that they’ll be invited back after the following general election, and as appropriate the existing arrangements are used to replace those who have died, or want to retire for reasons of age or health or loss of interest, etc.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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