RT: 160,000+ Sign Petition Calling for Abolition of the House of Lords

This is a very short video from RT, reporting that 165,000+ people have signed an internet petition calling for a referendum on the House of Lords. The petition states that the House of Lords should be abolished because peers have too much power over elected representatives. The number of signatories means that it has passed the number required for it to be debated in parliament. However, a spokesman for May’s government declared that they are committed to keeping the Lords as a revising and examining chamber.

I’ve put this up as it shows once again that an unelected House of Lords is a real issue for some people. I can remember back in the 1980s when one of the policies being suggested by the Labour party was that the House of Lords should be abolished. There was some discussion of it being turned into an elected chamber, like the American senate, under Blair. But he just satisfied himself with packing it full of ‘the people’s peers’. The Tories, meanwhile, carried out about how this was a terrible assault on tradition. One right-wing journo declared that the peers were the best people for the job through breeding and upbringing to sit in the House, examining legislation. This was before Rees-Mogg, who began his political career at about the same time campaigning on the same platform. The arguments are, of course, eugenic, and show how the aristocracy really does believe it’s biologically superior to the rest of us. Of course, the argument against that is Boris Johnson. I rest my case.

The Tories have recently been moaning about the House of Lords after they told Tweezer that her legislation for Brexit was not acceptable, and that it should involve parliament, rather than just her own cabinet. So now she’s thrown a strop and threatened to pack the Lords with her own cronies in order to get her way. So what the Tories condemned and screamed about when Blair did it, is perfectly all right when it comes to them. Which shows once again the party’s hypocrisy.

We do need an independent chamber to examine and revise legislation as a constitutional check. And the Lords has done that. I can remember how they used to annoy Thatcher back in the 1980s by throwing her reforms back at her. But there is a problem with the chamber. It has far too many members – almost 8-900. Seats there have become rewards for services to the government of the day. This really does need to end.

Regarding the possibility of it’s transformation into an elected senate, Private Eye considered that there was no real enthusiasm for this idea, and it would only result in second-rate politicians campaigning for seats there. I also remember an old workmate stating that the House of Lords was a complete anachronism, but it had the advantage of being cheap.

At the moment, the size of the House of Lords and the cynical way it has been used by successive prime ministers is calling it into disrepute. But it needs genuine reform, not more peers packed in as political favours, rather than abolition.

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2 Responses to “RT: 160,000+ Sign Petition Calling for Abolition of the House of Lords”

  1. Julian Says:

    certainly the HoL needs revising. I have always thought that an interesting alternative would be to pick members from ordinary people, like jury service. They get paid the good wage the Lords get and serve maybe one 6 year term (different length to the commons) rolling over so maybe 1/6 replaced at a time. There seems to be a political word for it, “sortition” which is not a helpful term.

    The idea is the that this wouldn’t threaten the primacy of the commons, but bring a cross-section of ordinary people to bring their skills to bear. If we trust people to decide on crimes like murder, then surely it is not a stretch to let them be in the 2nd chamber too, and avoids the party political pitfalls of the commons.

    • beastrabban Says:

      Thanks, Julian. I believe that there was a party advocating this a little while ago. I’ve also been told that the Chinese have adopted it for the local government of some of their megacities. Apparently, it does work well and avoids political extremes.

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