LibLink: We can’t sit in our golden chamber resisting democracy – Paddy Ashdown responds to attack on reform

In the Mail on Sunday this week, Lord Ashdown responded to Lord Carlile’s article from the previous week, which had opposed Nick Clegg’s plans for Lords reform:

If ever there was a time for a strong democratically based second chamber to buttress our democracy, it is now. Whatever view you take of the Cameron/Clegg proposals, nobody can seriously call them ‘ill-considered’. They were preceded by a Royal commission, four white papers and three joint committees. Every party called for it in their manifestos at the last Election.

The Cameron/Clegg reform Bill does not ‘trash’ the Lords, as some claim – it retains the best of what we have now and discards the worst. The more democratic ‘new Lords’ will remain different from the Commons – they will be more separated from the short-termism of a five-year electoral cycle and less likely to kowtow to the whips and the media.
The Commons will remain more powerful and finally able to get its way if it insists. Which means more democracy, but no deadlock. That’s proper democracy.

Some write of the ‘amazing expertise’ in the Lords. They are right to do so – we have some eminent, independent figures there. But they are far outnumbered by the retired, the rejected, the defeated and the sometimes dead-beat from the Commons.
My colleague Alex Carlile, who wrote in this paper last Sunday, is not a Lord because he is a great legal eagle (which he undoubtedly is), but because he is a former Lib Dem MP. I should know. It was me who recommended him for a peerage.

Read the full article at MailOnline.

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2 Comments

  • LondonLiberal 10th Jul '12 - 9:52am

    a good article by paddy. if one wants to retain one’s sanity i would suggest avoiding the readers’ comments below the line. But then again, what does one expect from the Mail on Sunday?

  • The Royal Commission referred to, if it is the same one I’m thinking of, appears to have been entirely ignored in the current proposal for reform. One of the key points of the Wakeham report (2000) was that while they agreed that there was a place for a directly elected element in the House of Lords, they specifically recommended against letting this be a majority.

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