Arise, Lord Paddick? 95 new Lib Dem peers set to be created

The Times reports today that one of the first moves of the new Lib Dem / Conservative coalition government will be to create up to 172 new peers in the House of Lords to create political balance and “ensure that controversial legislation gets through Parliament”.

The current composition of the Lords is as follows:

    Labour 211 (30%)
    Conservative 188 (27%)
    Lib Dem 72 (10%)
    Ukip 2 (0%)
    Crossbenchers 182 (26%)
    Lords Spiritual 25 (4%)
    Other 24 (3%)
    Total 704

In total, then, the coalition government comprises just over one-third of peers, and could be blocked on its legislative agenda – including of course the replacement of the Lords itself with an wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation, as stated in the coalition agreement:

We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

The Times estimates that the Lib Dem number of peers will need to be boosted from 72 to 167 to ensure representation in proportion to the party’s share of the vote – an increase of 95, more than double the party’s current contingent.

So where will they all come from? The Times speculates:

The Lib Dems would be likely to reach into local government for some appointments. Party donors could be rewarded, although the Lib Dems have ruled out putting any with non-dom tax status in the second chamber. Ian Wright, the Diageo communications director, and Neil Sherlock, a partner at KPMG, two advisers to the party, are possible candidates.

The party does, of course, have an elected list of party members from which the leadership should be looking to draw to be considered as future members of the House of Lords. Elected by conference in 2008 and valid until 2012, the 30 party members on the interim peers list is as follows, in order:

    1. PADDICK, Brian
    2. BRACK, Duncan
    3. BINGHAM, Viv
    4. DEWAN, Ramesh
    5. STONEHAM, Ben
    6. SMITH, Julie
    7. FRYER, Jonathan
    8. LISHMAN, Gordon
    9. WILLIAMS, David
    10. BEARDER, Catherine
    11. MARKS, Jonathan
    12. WHITE, Chris
    13. GALLAGHER, Jock
    14. COLEMAN, Ruth
    15. PEARCEY, Jackie
    16. MCGUINNESS, Justine
    17. KEMPTON, James
    18. LE BRETON, Bill
    19. ADAMSON, Robert
    20. HAYES, Josephine
    21. AFZAL, Qassim
    22. PRICE, Peter
    23. PALMER, Monroe
    24. MUGHAL, Fiyaz
    25. GREAVES, Bernard
    26. SMITHARD, Jane
    27. SHERWELL, Alan
    28. AMBACHE, Jeremy
    29. STEVENS, John
    30. VICKERS, Tony
    (Data courtesy Colin Rosenstiel)

Can all 30 on the list expect a call in the days and weeks to come? Or will the Lib Dem leadership ignore (at least in parts) those named above when making their little list?

And even if all 30 of the elected interim peers panel were called up to serve, however temporarily, in the House of Lords, the Lib Dem leadership would still need to find a further 65 Lib Dem peers. Doubtless some of those who lost their seats last week might be invited – but who else, and how will they be chosen?

Discuss …

Update: James Graham provides further background to the interim peers panel election results, and their potential impact on what comes next with Lords reform over at his Quaequam Blog! here.

Read more by .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

91 Comments

  • Maybe the party should hold an election, open to all party members?

  • David Boothroyd 17th May '10 - 11:07am

    How astonishing that one of the first acts of a government supposedly committed to democracy is to pack one of the chambers of the legislature. Quite a contrast with the Labour government which aimed only at broad parity between the main two parties. After 13 years of Labour government, your own figures above show less than a third of the Lords are Labour.

    The Government ought not to have a majority in the House of Lords. The Monarch has only previously sanctioned ‘packing’ when the Lords was actually preventing important constitutional legislation being passed (1832, 1910), not as a pre-emptive strike.

  • I’d been wondering why Don Foster hadn’t been found a cabinet function…

  • We need to be very careful with this. I can just about see the rationale here, which is that the Lords is not representative of how people voted, and this change would make it more so, but there’s a huge risk that once the change has been made, the momentum for reform dissipates. The same thing happened when Labour removed the hereditaries in Blair’s first term. We might grow to like having these people in the Lords, particularly if they’re popular, long-serving members of the party who ‘deserve’ their time in the House. We need to make it absolutely clear that their appointments are a brief interim measure designed precisely to enable their replacement by democratically-elected members (of course, there’s nothing to stop the appointed Lords standing for election once the time comes). That concept of “taking power to give it away” is something that needs to be uppermost in any discussion of this matter.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 11:18am

    The really important thing about this is the “grandfathering” system that is proposed for the future.

    If all existing peers are going to be allowed to remain in the Lords for life, then we aren’t really going to have an elected House of Lords for generations. And if 170 more peers were appointed now, that would make it so much worse.

    One other point. Those figures in the Times article (which are attributed to the Lib Dems) would not actually be in proportion to votes cast, because they would give the three parties more than 98% of the peers with a party affiliation. Other parties, which polled about 10%, would be virtually unrepresented.

  • “The Government ought not to have a majority in the House of Lords. The Monarch has only previously sanctioned ‘packing’ when the Lords was actually preventing important constitutional legislation being passed (1832, 1910), not as a pre-emptive strike”

    But the the stated aim of this move is to make the Lords reflect the percentage of the national vote received, as a prelude to the day soon (hallelujah) when it will reflect the national share organically through PR elections.

    To that end, I hope we a number of SNP, Green etc Lords appointed also.

  • Labour was defeated more than 400 times in the Lords after its limited reform in 1999, despite having more seats than anyone else. But it got most of its legislation through in the end by winning the argument, twisting arms, adapting to concerns or forcing it through using the constitutional mechanisms that make this possible. The coalition already has a higher proportion of seats than Labour had. It is not necessary to bloat the Lords further – do we really want almost 900 unelected peers while trying to arguing against Big Government? Cross benchers hold the balance in the HoL and you can win by the strength of your arguments not by appointing yet more lobby fodder. And then we can have an elected second chamber that will have a true democratic mandate.

    This proposal and the 55% dissolution threshold make it look as if the desirability of stable government is more important than democratic principles. It is not.

  • I will simply state what we have witnessed recently from Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats

    1. The refusal to follow the constitutional precedent and practice that means the incumbent Prime Minister should first attempt to form a government in the event of a hung parliament.

    2. Engaging in the kind of old school politics he supposedly rejects to cynically remove a sitting Prime Minister and gain further concessions from the Tory Party.

    3. Attempting to fix the term of the current parliament in the self interest of the coalition partners.

    4. Attempting to rig the makeup of the House of Lords in the coalitions’ favour.

    I ask a simple question, ‘Is this really what Liberal Democrats stand for?’

  • Steve –

    1) Constitutional precedents are guidelines, not codified anywhere. In this case, Nick announced the party’s intentions well in advance of the general election.

    2) I’m not quite sure what point you’re making. What is “old-school politics” in this context, given that we haven’t had negotiations over coalitions for the best part of 35 years?

    3) Again, fixed-term Parliaments were a manifesto commitment… of the Labour party, not just the Lib Dems. It has been a demand of Parliamentary reformers for over a century.

    4) As said above, the ‘rigging’ is designed to make the Lords reflect how the public voted. You know, like in a ‘democracy’.

    As I see it, the only problem is that we don’t yet have a timetable for elections to the Lords. This absolutely must be done either before the next general election or at the same time (my personal preference is for ‘mid-term’ elections to the Lords, but I know that others have done a lot more work on this and there are much better thought-out plans out there).

  • Ian, I like your idea of a Party election to choose peers – but I doubt it will be done, it’s too obvious!

    What we (as a party) should look for is improving diversity, given our woeful record in the Commons. I’d be looking for more women, more minorities and also diversity across the UK, so more from Scotland & Wales too.

  • @Rob

    As said above, the ‘rigging’ is designed to make the Lords reflect how the public voted. You know, like in a ‘democracy’.

    Yes, but it rather mutes a second chamber if it’s composition mirrors the Commons. What is the point of it; if it is simply in a position to rubber stamp legislation from the commons?? You might as well not have a second chamber to scrutinize and revise legislation.

    Constitutional precedents are guidelines, not codified anywhere. In this case, Nick announced the party’s intentions well in advance of the general election.

    Just because he said it prior to the election doesn’t make it right; it just shows his contempt for centuries of the British constitution. I know the constitution is not codified, sadly. However the point of precedents is they govern future actions, that is how our constitution is supposed to work and the precedents are clearly there in this matter.

    I’m not quite sure what point you’re making. What is “old-school politics” in this context, given that we haven’t had negotiations over coalitions for the best part of 35 years?

    Because he claims to want a new style of politics with parties and politicians working together; doing things a different way. Faced with his first real test on this, he simply engaged in the sort of negotiating and politicking he says he disagrees with.

    Again, fixed-term Parliaments were a manifesto commitment… of the Labour party, not just the Lib Dems. It has been a demand of Parliamentary reformers for over a century.

    Again, it was in neither parties manifesto to fix the term of the current parliament, nor to do so in a way that can only benefit the coalition partners.

  • Kehaar – the public did not vote for a Conservative government, a Labour government, a Lib Dem government, an SNP government, a Green government, etc. etc. They voted for their own individual MPs on whatever basis, and this threw up a hung parliament. Once minority government was ruled out because of the instability, the only alternative solution would have been another election, which I don’t believe anybody wanted.

    I’d agree that the public should be able to remove the peers – but that’s what an elected Upper House will do.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 11:48am

    “As I see it, the only problem is that we don’t yet have a timetable for elections to the Lords..”

    I think the real problem is that we don’t have a clue what the plans are for “grandfathering”. Election by thirds with a five year term would still leave us nearly 20 years away from an elected second chamber. But we have no assurance that present peers won’t simply be allowed to remain for life. If that were the case, appointing nearly 200 more peers now would be a terrible idea.

    On the whole I think it’s a pretty bad idea anyway unless it’s really necessary – and I don’t see why it should be, considering Lib/Con peers can outvote Labour peers. If the coalition were really signalling that it doesn’t think it can get its measures past the crossbenchers and bishops, that would be an ominous sign!

    On top of the choice of 55% as the size of a “supermajority” for dissolution, it does make it look as though these constitutional changes are being engineered for party advantage.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 11:54am

    “The “arise” bit is for knigthoods, not peerages”

    I suppose the temptation to indulge in a bit of Carry-On-style innuendo was just irresistible …

  • 700 peers? Could they not get rid of a few to even up the numbers, rather than select even more?

  • Duncan Borrowman 17th May '10 - 12:19pm

    Paul, It has to happen, or else the legisalation to abolish them will never get past them!

    I think our present list of 30 was drawn up in very different times when only one or two would get chosen off it and most people had grown dissillusioned with it. Hate to say it, given the logistical nightmare, but do we need a new and binding full list?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 12:20pm

    “Another question, is anyone seeking bribes as the last Liberal Prime Minister did?”

    On that subject, am I the only one who was surprised by this choice of wording in the Times report?
    “Party donors could be rewarded, although the Lib Dems have ruled out putting any with non-dom tax status in the second chamber.”

  • @Duncan Borrowman

    Paul, It has to happen, or else the legisalation to abolish them will never get past them!

    That statement is simply not true; that is the point of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. They could, and probably would. drag their heals and fight tooth and nail against it, but in the end they cannot block it.

    Indeed the provisions of the 1949 Act were upheld in 2005 by the House of Lords (in their judicial role) when the countryside alliance unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the Hunting Act 2004, which had been passed under the auspices of the Act. In October 2005, the House of Lords dismissed the Alliance’s appeal against this decision, a panel of nine Law Lords holding that the 1949 Act was a valid Act of Parliament.

  • Paul, It has to happen, or else the legisalation to abolish them will never get past them!

    Duncan: What makes you think that? Who will oppose it? Not the LDs, certainly. Not Labour either who proposed just such a reform themselves. I expect the cross benchers will be broadly in favour too. That leaves the Tory peers. Hmm. They might be tricky, but with a whip enough will comply to carry the vote comfortably.

    This move is NOT about voting to reform the HoL. It is about hammering through the rest of the legislative programme with the minimum of scrutiny.

  • Steve D,

    (1) Let’s not forget that Tony Blair actually sold some of those peerages in return for donations to the Labour Party. How democratic was that?

    (2) Which old school are you talking about? Not Fettes College, by any chance? Or might you be thinking of the late Anthony Crosland, who boasted that he never bothered to speak to anyone who hadn’t been to Oxford, and was overheard at a Labour Party Conference hotel moaning about “f***ing proles”?

  • @Sesenco

    I’m not here to defend Tony Blairs’ actions in this matter, which I found reprehensible and certainly did not agree with.

    On your second point you are simply reinforcing what I am saying. The ‘fact’ that Labour and Tory politicians have previously acted in this way; is precisely what I though the ‘new politics’ was about ending?

  • So, more New Politics. Not content with their proposal to rig the House of Commons vote to cement themselves in power for perpetuity, the Lib-Dem-Cons now propose to appoint 95 unelected people to force through their legislation in the Lords. Our parliament has now moved to Harare!

  • Icelandic Ash Cloud wrote:

    “Here you go again with your bizarre attempt to present Clegg as a proletarian hero alongside Blair. Truly bottom-of-the-rabbit-hole stuff!”

    100% codswallop. I am pointing out that people of privileged backgrounds are to be found in the Labour Party as well as the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, thereby calling into question Labour’s claims to be the party of, for and from the working-class. Wake up.

  • paul barker 17th May '10 - 1:26pm

    A number of unrelated points-
    On the question of whether this is a good idea or not- you are all too late, its in the agreement. We, collectively, have signed a contract that says we will make the numbers of Peers reflect the votes cast, WILL not ” ooh we have to think about this.” As far as I know theres no way to sack Peers so we will just have to put up with the silly numbers for now.In practice, its not as bad as it looks on paper, a lot of Peers dont attend very often.
    On Others, of course they should get their fair share except for the Nazis.
    On how we choose the 95, how about regional Elections with seperate list for Men & Women, the top n from each. That would sort the Gender element & ensure that they dont all come from London.
    While I am here can I suggest one name Columba Blango, our candidate against Harman.

  • Andrew Suffield 17th May '10 - 1:53pm

    It is about hammering through the rest of the legislative programme with the minimum of scrutiny.

    It takes precisely one Lord to cause scrutiny in that house, since that’s the number required to place a motion in front of the house for debate.

    This is partly about not having to spend an extra year to force legislation past Labour sabotage, but mostly about Cameron wanting to reward people, and Clegg not wanting the house to get distorted by that.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 2:04pm

    “On Others, of course they should get their fair share except for the Nazis.”

    “And why should they not get any? They are, last time I looked, a legal UK political party. Unlike the Nazis, we do not go in for banning parties we don’t like – we beat them at the ballot box and with the pen.”

    Which, of course, illustrates one difficulty with the proposal, which says “Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election”. It doesn’t say “political parties we approve of”.

    But I still think the crucial point relates to this business of “grandfathering”. And what that implies is not spelled out in the agreement, and presumably has yet to be decided. Personally, I don’t see the need for it at all. Excluding hereditaries, there are only just over 400 peers with party affiliations. Presumably a significant proportion of these will be too elderly to take an active role. If the new elected House of Lords is going to be comparable in size to the Commons, there will be plenty of opportunity for existing peers to stand for election if they wish to continue.

  • @Andrew Suffield

    “This is partly about not having to spend an extra year to force legislation past Labour sabotage”

    I really don’t get this. Either the Lords (or any second chamber) has the power to scrutinize, revise and delay legislation; or it doesn’t. To simply claim all that will happen is ‘Labour sabotage’; is to insult intelligence.

    This is the same chamber that some looked to as a safeguard against Labour Party excesses over the past 13 years; now being coloured as potential saboteurs of the new Tory-Liberal agenda! Tory and Lib Dem sabotage was fine then; Labour sabotage now isn’t, since it doesn’t suit the coalition partners.

    There is nothing wrong with some redress of the balance of views in the Lords, but what appears to be proposed goes way beyond that.

    I make no apologies for repeating this. The combination of proposals on the constitutional arrangements for dissolution of parliament and for stacking the House of Lords with Tory and Liberal Peers, is a blatant attempt to rig both Houses in favour of the coalition partners. In the Commons to protect it from dissolution and in the Lords to ensure its legislation is rubber stamped.

    Had any of this been attempted by the Labour Party the outrage would have been palpable, including from Liberal Democrats. To oppose this should not even be a matter of party politics; surely democrats of all political persuasions can see these proposals for what they really are?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 2:58pm

    It’s really not clear how Labour could sabotage anything in the House of Lords, considering they have only 30% of the peers, and less than the Lib/Con total. Unless there’s something about the number of _active_ peers that is concealed by the raw totals, I suppose. But even in that case, I simply can’t see how anything on this scale could be necessary.

    And of course it’s more than a little odd for the Conservatives to be suddenly so concerned that the number of peers must reflect the votes cast at the last election – considering that they still won’t touch PR for the Commons with a bargepole!

  • David Allen 17th May '10 - 3:16pm

    This will be legitimate if and only if

    (a) our and the Tory new appointments are limited term, to expire when new elected system put in place, or after (e.g.) three years, whichever is the sooner

    (b) grandfathering does not extend to the new appointments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 3:19pm

    “grandfathering does not extend to the new appointments”

    I’d be amazed if that were the case – whatever grandfathering means anyway …

  • David Allen 17th May '10 - 4:31pm

    “On top of the choice of 55% as the size of a “supermajority” for dissolution, it does make it look as though these constitutional changes are being engineered for party advantage.”

    Would it be too paranoid to suggest that the Tories are doing all this as blatantly grubbily as possible, in order to provoke a public backlash which will let them abandon electoral reform?

  • And yet, Kehaar/Alec/whatever your alterego is today, you are so are infatuated with the party that you spend hours each day posting on Website devoted it.

  • What’s the necessity of creating new peers to force through legislation – why is the Parliament Act not enough? And if that’s used to force through early reforms to make the Other Place proportionally elected, then problem solved surely?

  • i just realised i’m not the first to ask the q about the Parliament Act… does anyone have a satisfactory answer to it?

  • My best guess as to why the Parliament act isn’t being used is because of this grandfathering scheme. We don’t know what form that will take, and until we do all of this is guesswork by everyone, but where’s the fun in waiting?

    Even if full PR HOL elections are introduced, it is likely only going to cover a small percentage of the membership of that house, because of said grandfathering (and possibly 3rd’s elections etc). So, even if completely pure PR national party list was used (which it won’t be) the HOL would still be a long way from representative after it’s first (and possibly more) elections.

    This mechanism of adding peers, while crude, fixes that problem. The HOL will immediately become proportional, and elections will just change the balance as the public mood shifts. In other words, we will have a Proportional HOL very soon, as opposed to the many years it would take relying purely on retirements and staggered elections.

    It’s not ideal, but it’s a means to a higher goal (PR), and in that context I can accept it.

  • “And, you know what David Blunkett says about that sort of person.”

    Throw them in Belmarsh, ask questions later?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 5:56pm

    Of course, the Parliament Act does leave the Lords with a delaying power on most bills. But given the composition of the Lords, I don’t believe there can be any real concern about bills being blocked by peers.

    “It’s not ideal, but it’s a means to a higher goal (PR), and in that context I can accept it.”

    But peers being appointed by parties is still very different from them being elected by the people, whatever proportions they’re appointed in.

    I wish someone could explain to me why there needs to be “grandfathering” at all.

  • “But peers being appointed by parties is still very different from them being elected by the people, whatever proportions they’re appointed in.”

    Absolutely.

    A very poor second best. But better than we currently have, and hopefully for a temporary transition period.

    As for grandfathering, I am just as baffled as yourself. I fear the precedent was set with the hereditary peers in ’99 though, unfortunately.

  • Kehaar, i assume it’s to try and protect the perceived role of the Lords as ‘experts’ on a range of issues – they are supposed to be put there in recognition of their service to society in different fields remember. I think the idea of grandfathering will probably be around non-voting, inducting the newbies etc, and teaching them how to scrutinise effectively – and induction process if you like. That bit’s not that objectionable (if that’s what it is) but i just cannot see the necessity of creating a load of new lords as a way to abolish the house…. of course it could just be times shit stirring…

  • John Emerson 17th May '10 - 7:48pm

    I am going to take the times article with a grain of salt, until I hear some confirmation from a coalition spokesman. I find it difficult to believe that the liberal democrat leadership would agree to this, but then again I was wrong about the coalition.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 17th May '10 - 8:40pm

    “I am going to take the times article with a grain of salt, until I hear some confirmation from a coalition spokesman. I find it difficult to believe that the liberal democrat leadership would agree to this, but then again I was wrong about the coalition.”

    The agreement does say:
    ” In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.”

    However, some scepticism is called for regarding the exact numbers. I note that the article cites “Lib Dem estimates” as indicating 95 more LD peers, but later on Quotes Lord Oakeshott as saying the party is entitled to “at least 50 more”.

  • John Emerson 17th May '10 - 8:55pm

    I meant in timing. I am sure that over the 5 year parliament the number of lib-dem peer will go up (by perhaps ‘at least 50’) , but to appoint 100 LD peers in the short run, no matter the justification, simply looks terrible.

  • Duncan Borrowman 17th May '10 - 8:58pm

    Steve D , my comment was in haste. You are correct.

    I stick by:

    I think our present list of 30 was drawn up in very different times when only one or two would get chosen off it and most people had grown dissillusioned with it. Hate to say it, given the logistical nightmare, but do we need a new and binding full list?

  • Google search on the definition of grandfathering:

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&safe=off&defl=en&q=define:Grandfathering&ei=LarxS-fMDNKgsQbRioGeBg&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title&ved=0CBQQkAE

    This seems to be the pertinent one

    When rules change, current participants remain unaffected and the new rules only apply to new participants.

  • I don’t think the idea behind this point of the coalition agreement is to pack the house with new appointments but that when new appointments are made they should be made to help rebalance the Lords as per the general election share of the vote (basically more Lib Dems and other minor parties rather than more Labour)

  • Sigh. Grandfathering is Lib Dem policy to do with having staggered elections in the second chamber. In the first election, something like 1/3 is elected, but since it is staggered, that still leaves 2/3 unelected. After a certain period of time, the next third will be elected, then after another period, the final third is elected, before moving on to have elections for the first third again etc.

    “i just realised i’m not the first to ask the q about the Parliament Act… does anyone have a satisfactory answer to it?”

    Well, since policy can be passed without creating loads of new Lords using the Parliament Act, then clearly these new Lords have nothing to do with forcing policy through the Lords (since it can get passed either way). No, it seems obvious to me that it is about making the chamber proportionate until the day comes when it starts having elections.

    We have an unelected chamber. That is a fact. We will have it until legislation is passed making it elected. Since it is a fact that for a short while at least we’ll have an unelected chamber, which would you prefer: an unelected Lords matching the vote of the population; or an unelected Lords not matching the vote of the population?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th May '10 - 12:59am

    “Sigh. Grandfathering is Lib Dem policy to do with having staggered elections in the second chamber. “

    So sorry not to be up to speed on Lib Dem policy and the jargon used to express it. But it’s not that easy to discover these things – Google searches for “grandfather” and “grandfathering” limited to libdems.org bring up nothing relevant to the House of Lords. Maybe it would be wiser not to assume the electorate in general – or even, on recent evidence, political journalists – are conversant with the esoteric language of policy wonks.

    Would it be unreasonable to repeat the question that’s been asked several times – why not just elect the whole House to start with, whatever you do thereafter? Why is it necessary to have “grandfathering” at all?

  • “That statement is simply not true; that is the point of the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. They could, and probably would. drag their heals and fight tooth and nail against it, but in the end they cannot block it.”

    Nail dragging etc might delay a successful AV referendum coming into effect AFTER the next general election. This would be a very bad thing in light of what the coalition may do to our voter base.

    @Anthony – For long-term posts to work successfully you cannot elect them all at once. So if you were to elect, say, 1/3 of the peers every 5 years to serve 15 year terms you couldn’t start by electing the whole lot (compare with singing ‘row, row, row your boat’ therefore some mechanism must be in place for the 2/3s who won’t be elected in the first tranche. A system which retains some of the existing peers either through ballot of the peers or some other method would be ‘grandfathering’ them, as ‘grandfathering’ clauses in some legislation allows one to bypass certain restrictions (if a new law requires such-and-such a qualification to teach, for example, people who have been teaching successfully for 20 years might be allowed to assume the qualification; this would be grandfathering).

  • “why not just elect the whole House to start with, whatever you do thereafter?”

    At minimum (assume the 15 year term lengths I just gave) you would have to run three elections – one for the 15 year lords, one for the 10 year lords and one for the 5 year lords. Then you would have to face the problem that many of the new Lords would be unfamiliar with the working of the chamber; grandfathering guarantees experience and institutional memory. Then there’s the ‘turkeys for christmas’ phenomenon: Lords are much more likely to support a system which sees them serving for another 5-10 years than one which forces them all to be elected our ousted immediately. It’s a compromise, but it’s an eminently sensible one.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th May '10 - 9:41am


    The current composition of the Lords is as follows:

    Labour 211 (30%)
    Conservative 188 (27%)
    Lib Dem 72 (10%)

    So of those peers who take a party label, a clear majority are of the two parties which form the coalition.

    End of story. However much there may be some members of our party salivating at the job prospects, with that composition creating large numbers of Conservative and LibDem peers would be a disgrace. Don’t do it.

    There is an argument for evening up the balance between Conservative and LibDem peers. But I suggest we don’t even call for that. It WILL be denounced in the right-wing press and by the Labour Party as “jobs for the boys” (and maybe some girls) and we can’t afford to add this as something to make us unpopular on top of everything else we have to do which will make us unpopular.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 18th May '10 - 9:57am

    Duncan

    Regarding “institutional memory”, I am assuming that quite a lot of the present peers would wish to stand for election and would be successful, so I think that’s a completely spurious argument.

    And as for the technical arguments you mention, if this proposal for electing by thirds is really such a barrier to having an elected House of Lords within the next couple of decades, maybe it’s not such a brilliant idea. But I don’t believe it is an insuperable barrier. Why not simply elect a full house to start with, and choose by lot a third who would serve only five years, then face re-election, another third who would serve ten years, then face re-election and another third who would serve fifteen years?

    I’m sure there will never be any shortage of arguments for postponing a fully elected Lords – after all, that’s what we’ve seen over the last 13 years – but on the whole I think it would be much better just to do it.

  • Paul McKeown 18th May '10 - 3:22pm

    This must NOT be done. There must be some tension between the Lower and Upper Houses, otherwise one might as well have a unicameral parliament. Not unless the Peers voted against a Bill from the lower house to create an elected Upper House, in which case sufficient Peers should be appointed as would guarantee the free passage of such a bill.

  • tonygreaves 18th May '10 - 6:18pm

    I have skimmed all these comments – amazing that so many people care so much about us! In case someone has not pointed it out, Brian Paddick is already a life peer, sitting on the Cross Benches.

    I think the “peers’ list” consists of two lots of 30 nowadays, ie 60 in total. I suspect the first 30 are due to fall off this summer and another list is due to be elected (which could be fun).

    There is no chance of these huge numbers being appointed, it’s just a silly press story. But the Tories need more if they are to sustain a Governemnt (or most of one) since a lot of their people are now relics of the past. And we need more (1) to balance better against the other two parties and (2) to replenish our ranks as we also have more than a few oldies. (George Mackie has just taken leave of absence for instance).

    But not the ridiculous numbers listed here.

    Labour have been shamelessly increasing their numbers in recent years.

    Tony Greaves

  • @tonygreaves

    From the coalition agreement

    “We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.”

    The ‘silly’ press stories presumably reflect the numbers required to achieve this?

    Indeed the Times article quotes Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, as saying: “The coalition agreement entitles us to at least 50 more new Lib Dem peers to reflect our share of the vote on May 6. This is a key part of the coalition package for Liberal Democrats and a real test of our new Government’s good faith.”

    Of course, the timing and the reality of these appointments remains to be seen. At least one of your colleagues considers them to be important.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 19th May '10 - 11:41am

    “In case someone has not pointed it out, Brian Paddick is already a life peer, sitting on the Cross Benches.”

    Eh?

    You’re not getting confused with the crossbencher Lord Pannick, are you?

  • How extraordinary. If the party really needs to go through such a process I’d like to see at least 50% women appointed. Where are the women in the Lib Dems? We think 10% of parliamentary seats is unfair, how is only 21% of seats representative of 50% of the population fair? I’d like to see turnout rates. We have a worse rate than Afghanistan (27%).

    What about successful Lib Dem councillors/activists based in marginal seats? Their appointments could be accompanied by long-term communication and profile-raising strategies. Nominated by local branch and nationally approved.

    The local branch Lords election campaigns could be widely publicised to promote the party’s dedication to fairness and democracy.

    If these are short-term appointments (before reform is rolled out) all the more reason to massively promote women, to headline the gender issue, take credit for that, attract more female voters and to make political life a desirable ambition for women.

  • I wonder Why Rachel Oliver isn;t on the lists, she’s stood twice, chaired a couple of LD committees and she has high profile jobs, She’s also a SW LD with good networking skills and Tory friends, a good tactical choice too.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRussell Simpson 25th Jun - 11:31am
    Nick, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said maybe there is even less appetite now. Unfortunately Labour (esp under Corbyn)...
  • User AvatarMike S 25th Jun - 11:17am
    @ Fiona Yes, I’m sure Jo’s very sensible and mature stance has not been lost on Layla. Leadership in 21st century Britain is a huge...
  • User AvatarMike S 25th Jun - 11:08am
    @Andrew Hickey, @ Holly Matthies Andrew, just clicking around over a cuppa, in between sorting out the jungle that used to be known as my...
  • User AvatarCassieB 25th Jun - 11:01am
    Wise words from Tom. And Glenn. The dreadful thing is that most of the mess was entirely foreseeable. And yet despite the recent lessons of...
  • User AvatarJohn Kelly 25th Jun - 10:46am
    John McHugo's comment is wise as always. He is of course too modest to mention his own book on Syria which is well worth reading....
  • User AvatarAndrew McCaig 25th Jun - 10:46am
    The Labour manifesto was, as said above, a manifesto for opposition, not for government, full of big promises to the middle class and with an...
Sat 1st Jul 2017