Tag Archives: lords reform

Burns Commission proposes a smaller House of Lords, and how to get there

It’s time, once again, for another attempt at House of Lords reform. Late last year, the House debated a motion aiming to reduce the size of the House from its current 800-plus, and the Burns Commission, chaired by Crossbencher Lord Burns, a former mandarin, set to work. So, what are the proposals, and what are the potential issues?

Size

Six hundred peers is the figure that the Commission have alighted on, equivalent to that of the Commons if Boundary Commission proposals are adopted but, in any event, no more than the number in …

Posted in News and Parliament | 17 Comments

Lords reform back on the agenda?

No doubt Lords reform will be back on the agenda after the peers have had their way with the Article 50 Bill. The Lords will at most be able to delay the legislation, but it may well return to the Commons in a shape that is displeasing to the Tory  brexiteers. In that instance, we can expect to see ministers huff and puff about the impertinence of an unelected house interfering with Government legislation. These will be the same ministers who as Tory MPs frustrated Nick Clegg’s plans to have the House of Lords elected along with so many of their colleagues.

The Lords is a revising and scrutinising chamber and it has a duty to take the Government on if they produce bad legislation and I expect to see them doing that.

The idea of electing the Lords was discussed again on Friday as Green Peer Jenny Jones’ private members’ bill came up for second reading.  It is not dissimilar to Lib Dem thinking on Lords reform and it was therefore unsurprising that our Alan Beith and Paul Scriven spoke up in favour of the Bill.

Alan had a good swipe at the Tories’ plans for a Repeal Bill in the process:

>We are now in a new situation. It would be an extraordinarily optimistic person who thought that we could get through legislation on Lords reform in a Parliament which will be overwhelmed by the vast corpus of primary and secondary legislation that will be involved in leaving the European Union. Perhaps the noble Baroness shares the tendency to political optimism which is often a characteristic of Liberal Democrats.

Her Bill has many similarities with the coalition’s proposals and with Liberal Democrat policy. It provides for what we regard as the essential ingredient of democracy while recognising that the second Chamber should be elected on a different basis from the Commons and on a different timescale. However, retaining all existing Peers except hereditaries as non-voting Members outnumbering the voting Members would produce a very strange assembly with obvious tensions. The noble Baroness may be making a massive concession before the process of negotiation has even begun in order to get turkeys to vote for Christmas.

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Dreaming of Lords reform

Surely there is nothing better for a lifelong liberal to do in an idle moment than to fantasise about some form of constitutional reform?  Well maybe that’s just me….but please indulge me for a moment.

In the last couple of weeks we have seen Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie explore the issue of all women short lists and the dissolution honours has prompted unease at the membership and structure of the House of Lords.  Could we solve both these issues in one move?

How about we elect (gasp!) the House of Lords but do so differently from the Commons?

Currently, the UK sends 73 MEPs to Europe from 12 constituencies.  My plan would be to use these same constituencies for the Upper House except with double the number of seats – half for women and half for men – 146 members in total – a reasonable amount for a focused chamber and more than the US Senate.  

Posted in News | Also tagged | 28 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes…Liberal Democrats will work with anyone to reform the House of Lords

Yesterday, the news was released about the latest tranche of appointments to the House of Lords.  The Liberal Democrat peers will be, as they always have been, constructive and conscientious. Where we agree with the government we shall support them and where we don’t we shall work to amend and if needs be oppose.But the principle matters, Liberal Democrat peers were appointed on the pledge ‘to abolish themselves’.

The Lords has two functions. To revise and to hold the Executive to account. The first it does quite well, the second it does not at all – how can it when, by definition, it is a creature of the Executive?

The Lords is wholly undemocratic and will never have the legitimacy it needs for a healthy democracy until this is changed.

Every party in their manifestos hints at reform or abolition of the second chamber, but the Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to it. So today we recommit our party – and its new Peers – to working actively for the reform of the House of Lords and ideally its abolition in favour of an elected second chamber. We urge the other parties to join us in this effort.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 48 Comments

Lord Jim Wallace writes: New Lib Dem colleagues will campaign with me to reform House of Lords

It is desperately disappointing that to many people outside Westminster, the impression that they have of the House of Lords is that espoused by the press over the course of this summer following the reported behaviour of Lord Sewel.

In the days and weeks that have followed, we have seen many claims that Peers abuse their privileged position by not pulling their weight and not taking seriously the role that they are supposed to perform by virtue of their membership of the Lords.

This view is compounded by the fact that no member of the House of Lords has been elected by the general public to be in that position. And each and every one is secure in that membership for life. This is fundamentally wrong.

Regrettably, the good work of our Peers has been overshadowed by a few members of the Lords who, over the years, have shown disregard for their status and responsibility as public servants.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Nick Clegg’s press conference: A new policy, looking ahead to an “independent, liberal” manifesto, Iraq, leadership and Smarties

Nick Clegg Q&A 19I promised you a bit more from Nick Clegg’s  monthly press conference this morning. Overnight, he had released his opening statement, but there was a surprise to come – a shiny new policy.  Now, obviously, that has to come to Conference so it’s not set in stone, but I suspect it will get a favourable hearing.

From cradle to college

Basically, all early years and school education funding, including the Pupil Premium, will be ring-fenced.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , and | 54 Comments

LibLink: Nick Clegg: Kick the crooks out and drag the Lords into the 21st century

Nick Clegg has written about the need to reform the House of Lords in today’s Mirror in response to the latest mini-scandal concerning Lord Hanningfield. When I read the first sentence, my blood pressure hit the roof:

What’s worse than a greedy Lord clocking in to work for just a few minutes a day to pocket hundreds of pounds from the taxpayer?

What’s worse is when the same peer – caught red handed as a result of the Mirror’s excellent investigative efforts – shrugs their shoulders and tells you: everybody’s doing it.

But there are lots of good ones who work really hard, …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 8 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarIan 21st Nov - 3:09pm
    Both of these articles are worth reading. The bottom line is that we have become irrelevant with our obsession with defending the status quo, at...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 21st Nov - 2:48pm
    I wonder how those people who do work, even if they prefer to do so, will feel if there are millions of people living off...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 21st Nov - 2:36pm
    There's seems to be an argument on this thread that tax avoidance is too easy because the tax system is too complicated. I'd dispute that....
  • User AvatarJames Brough 21st Nov - 2:12pm
    Am I being unduly cynical in noting that the one person to defend Lord Rennard is also the one person to refer to him as...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 21st Nov - 1:56pm
    Thanks for these informative article. Does anyone know whats happening with our Sister Party in Germany, The FDP ? The context is very different but...
  • User Avatarpaul barker 21st Nov - 1:37pm
    Clearly the issue with Rennard has not gone away, it is still causing pain & damaging The Party. Perhaps its time to think realistically about...