Refoming the House of Lords

Boxer96

Old-Salt
There is an excellent article in the Sunday Times (paywall, reproduced below) concerning the Parliamentary old folks home, the House of Lords.
I have long thought that this outdated anachronism is long past its sell by date and needs replacing.
Long a repository for the ex-parliamentary failures, donors to political parties or simply to quiet a rebellion.
Then we have pandering to the public, with honours to "do gooders" or elevating Stephen Lawrence's mother, Doreen to the peerage.
Out with them say I and replace them with an elected house, term limited to 10 yrs and an upper age limit of 70 yrs (if it is good enough for high court judges..)



This house of frauds needs an end‑of‑the‑peer show

Quentin Letts

Sunday July 26 2020, 12.01am BST, The Sunday Times

Vanity is now the chief propellant at the House of Lords. Vanity is what draws them to the “upper house”. Vanity is not without its political uses. By stroking vanity, a prime minister can corrupt and compensate lower mortals, and that makes government easier. But vanity it is, plus maybe an ounce or two of venality.

With another dumper-load of peers about to be announced — they will range from the bombastic Sir Ian Botham to that gluey naysayer Philip Hammond — let’s no longer kid ourselves that the Lords is some convocation of elders cradling our kingdom’s destiny in their papery-veined hands.

Let’s not fall for the idea that the 33 committees of this tottering institution do “important work” or that their fact-finding trips to Russia and elsewhere are missions of patriotic reconnaissance. Those bottoms polishing the red leather benches do not belong to sages intent solely on legislative revision. Today’s Lords is a racket, a stink-pit, a parade of vain non-entities to match the I’m a Celebrity jungle.


My beef is not with Lord Botham of Linseed Oil, or whatever title he chooses before his introduction ceremony. And what a ceremony it is: an ermine-clad pavane at which a wigged clerk proclaims a cod-medieval royal letters patent and some plump goose from the College of Arms minces round with a mini billiard stick in his pinkies.
Nor is this an ad hominem gripe against Hammond, hood-eyed gloomster though he be. As a former chancellor he at least has a stronger call on a peerage than serial smarmers such as Ed Vaizey, for six years an exceptionally pointless minister for the arts. Vaizey in the Lords! That, far more than Botham, confirms that this is a house on its uppers.

The place is riddled with such middlers, given the nod because a departing prime minister needed to make up the numbers. Take Labour’s Lord Watts, who in 18 years as MP for St Helens North never once, that I could discern, said anything brave or poetic. Take the Liberal Democrats’ Lord Cotter, first name Brian, comb-over hairdo, grey shoes, such a mouse that when he spoke in the Commons it seemed he might at any moment projectile-vomit from nerves.
Or take — because the voters of Croydon Central no longer would — Gavin Barwell, who as chief of staff at No 10 for two years, was the genius behind Theresa May’s administration. He is “Lord Barwell, of Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon” now, please, rewarded for the worst premiership in our country’s history. Welcome to modern, levelled, global Britain.
The new tranche of peers will top things up nicely, pushing the size of this bloated body back past 800. By way of comparison, the US Senate has 100 members. Senators, schmenators. Mere elected blow-ins. But to be a British lord temporal, to have a coat of arms, to be called “milord” or “milady” by tailcoated flunkeys, to have access to wood-panelled dining rooms, and to become a curlicued adornment to the boards of start-ups in former eastern bloc countries — now you’re talking.
The perks of being a peer outweigh any minor intrusions. As noted by the intelligence and security committee with its Russia report last week, peers need not publish much about their financial interests. An ermined Peter Mandelson or Greg Barker need not detail how many hundred thousand spondulicks they pocket from hiring themselves out to a Russian defence conglomerate or energy firm. Vagueness suffices for a Robert Skidelsky — no champion of the free press, he — when he lists dealings with the Russian oil giant Russneft.
Please, these are “noble peers”, their honour beyond question. That even goes for a ripe specimen such as Lord Truscott, inexplicably rich former MEP and minister in the Blair government, disgraced and suspended in a lobbying scandal, so devoted to Russia that he nominated Vladimir Putin for the 2013 Nobel peace prize. Truscott’s wife, Svetlana, daughter of a Red Army colonel, invariably bags prime position at state openings of parliament, bejewelled and begloved, the chandeliers glistening off her tiara and her sharp teeth.
If all this, along with its attempts to torpedo Brexit, had not already tarnished the Lords, the government has accelerated the process during lockdown. It has truncated debates and silenced the better peers (they are not all bad) who have questioned Downing Street policy on, for instance, Huawei. Virtual proceedings have neutered debates and protected weak ministers. One reason the debates have been so dire is that hundreds of peers have applied to speak, so as to be able to claim their daily bung.
It has been a pitiful spectacle: gabbled one-minute speeches on matters as complex as abortion, and technically inept souls desperately trying to operate their Zoom machines. Peers are not as dotty as they were.
Some of the more embarrassingly gaga ones have retired and there are now perhaps only two peers who are certifiably mad. But somehow they were easier to take when there were eccentrics. Today’s naked careerism is sickening.
This house cannot be saved by colourful appointments such as Botham. Most of those committees, open as they are to posturing, should be scrapped. The house’s total numbers should probably be cut back to 250. Should we even have a second chamber? A few countries do without, although abandoning all checks and balances might be foolhardy.
One thing, though, is certain: the House of Frauds has gone beyond a joke. It needs to be detonated.



Cricket | The Times & The Sunday Times
 

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Hear, hear!

But ironic that the guy complaining about pomposity and peacocks in ermine is Quentin Letts of the bright red braces and matching cravat!

I agree that the HofL is totally out of control and not for for purpose. When there are so many Liberal Lords compared to number of MPs the place is totally out of kilter with public view.

I think there is an absolute need for a second chamber, but not in this current form. Just look at how Sturgeon forces through bad Bills that have had no scrutiny in the one chambered Scottish parliament.

Expenses need to be sorted as well. Turning up, signing in and getting back in the taxi should not incurr a day's expenses. Even during lockdown, if they logged in they could claim half expenses - what expense if working from home? Certainly not £175. Get rid of the Lord's Spiritual as well. Why should Church of England bishops have such a say in the running of the country?
 
There is an excellent article in the Sunday Times (paywall, reproduced below) concerning the Parliamentary old folks home, the House of Lords.
I have long thought that this outdated anachronism is long past its sell by date and needs replacing.
Long a repository for the ex-parliamentary failures, donors to political parties or simply to quiet a rebellion.
Then we have pandering to the public, with honours to "do gooders" or elevating Stephen Lawrence's mother, Doreen to the peerage.
Out with them say I and replace them with an elected house, term limited to 10 yrs and an upper age limit of 70 yrs (if it is good enough for high court judges..)



This house of frauds needs an end‑of‑the‑peer show

Quentin Letts

Sunday July 26 2020, 12.01am BST, The Sunday Times

Vanity is now the chief propellant at the House of Lords. Vanity is what draws them to the “upper house”. Vanity is not without its political uses. By stroking vanity, a prime minister can corrupt and compensate lower mortals, and that makes government easier. But vanity it is, plus maybe an ounce or two of venality.

With another dumper-load of peers about to be announced — they will range from the bombastic Sir Ian Botham to that gluey naysayer Philip Hammond — let’s no longer kid ourselves that the Lords is some convocation of elders cradling our kingdom’s destiny in their papery-veined hands.

Let’s not fall for the idea that the 33 committees of this tottering institution do “important work” or that their fact-finding trips to Russia and elsewhere are missions of patriotic reconnaissance. Those bottoms polishing the red leather benches do not belong to sages intent solely on legislative revision. Today’s Lords is a racket, a stink-pit, a parade of vain non-entities to match the I’m a Celebrity jungle.


My beef is not with Lord Botham of Linseed Oil, or whatever title he chooses before his introduction ceremony. And what a ceremony it is: an ermine-clad pavane at which a wigged clerk proclaims a cod-medieval royal letters patent and some plump goose from the College of Arms minces round with a mini billiard stick in his pinkies.
Nor is this an ad hominem gripe against Hammond, hood-eyed gloomster though he be. As a former chancellor he at least has a stronger call on a peerage than serial smarmers such as Ed Vaizey, for six years an exceptionally pointless minister for the arts. Vaizey in the Lords! That, far more than Botham, confirms that this is a house on its uppers.

The place is riddled with such middlers, given the nod because a departing prime minister needed to make up the numbers. Take Labour’s Lord Watts, who in 18 years as MP for St Helens North never once, that I could discern, said anything brave or poetic. Take the Liberal Democrats’ Lord Cotter, first name Brian, comb-over hairdo, grey shoes, such a mouse that when he spoke in the Commons it seemed he might at any moment projectile-vomit from nerves.
Or take — because the voters of Croydon Central no longer would — Gavin Barwell, who as chief of staff at No 10 for two years, was the genius behind Theresa May’s administration. He is “Lord Barwell, of Croydon in the London Borough of Croydon” now, please, rewarded for the worst premiership in our country’s history. Welcome to modern, levelled, global Britain.
The new tranche of peers will top things up nicely, pushing the size of this bloated body back past 800. By way of comparison, the US Senate has 100 members. Senators, schmenators. Mere elected blow-ins. But to be a British lord temporal, to have a coat of arms, to be called “milord” or “milady” by tailcoated flunkeys, to have access to wood-panelled dining rooms, and to become a curlicued adornment to the boards of start-ups in former eastern bloc countries — now you’re talking.
The perks of being a peer outweigh any minor intrusions. As noted by the intelligence and security committee with its Russia report last week, peers need not publish much about their financial interests. An ermined Peter Mandelson or Greg Barker need not detail how many hundred thousand spondulicks they pocket from hiring themselves out to a Russian defence conglomerate or energy firm. Vagueness suffices for a Robert Skidelsky — no champion of the free press, he — when he lists dealings with the Russian oil giant Russneft.
Please, these are “noble peers”, their honour beyond question. That even goes for a ripe specimen such as Lord Truscott, inexplicably rich former MEP and minister in the Blair government, disgraced and suspended in a lobbying scandal, so devoted to Russia that he nominated Vladimir Putin for the 2013 Nobel peace prize. Truscott’s wife, Svetlana, daughter of a Red Army colonel, invariably bags prime position at state openings of parliament, bejewelled and begloved, the chandeliers glistening off her tiara and her sharp teeth.
If all this, along with its attempts to torpedo Brexit, had not already tarnished the Lords, the government has accelerated the process during lockdown. It has truncated debates and silenced the better peers (they are not all bad) who have questioned Downing Street policy on, for instance, Huawei. Virtual proceedings have neutered debates and protected weak ministers. One reason the debates have been so dire is that hundreds of peers have applied to speak, so as to be able to claim their daily bung.
It has been a pitiful spectacle: gabbled one-minute speeches on matters as complex as abortion, and technically inept souls desperately trying to operate their Zoom machines. Peers are not as dotty as they were.
Some of the more embarrassingly gaga ones have retired and there are now perhaps only two peers who are certifiably mad. But somehow they were easier to take when there were eccentrics. Today’s naked careerism is sickening.
This house cannot be saved by colourful appointments such as Botham. Most of those committees, open as they are to posturing, should be scrapped. The house’s total numbers should probably be cut back to 250. Should we even have a second chamber? A few countries do without, although abandoning all checks and balances might be foolhardy.
One thing, though, is certain: the House of Frauds has gone beyond a joke. It needs to be detonated.



Cricket | The Times & The Sunday Times
Thanks for posting this and reminding me what an excellent Political Commentator Mr Letts is. I miss his daily column in the Daily Mail, ripping in to the Political class. He is absolutely spot on about the Upper House - a disgraceful, overblown mix of placemen and women and vanity appointments.
 
I’ve often thought that the Upper House should be elected by PR, thus reflecting the ‘popular vote’ whilst maintaining the strength of a ‘first past the post’ HoC.
 
There is an excellent article in the Sunday Times (paywall, reproduced below) concerning the Parliamentary old folks home, the House of Lords.
I have long thought that this outdated anachronism is long past its sell by date and needs replacing.
Long a repository for the ex-parliamentary failures, donors to political parties or simply to quiet a rebellion.
Then we have pandering to the public, with honours to "do gooders" or elevating Stephen Lawrence's mother, Doreen to the peerage.
Out with them say I and replace them with an elected house, term limited to 10 yrs and an upper age limit of 70 yrs (if it is good enough for high court judges..)
Be careful what you wish for.

The Rt Hon MP for Sedgefield was behind the most recent "reform" of the Hise Of Lairds.

He had me fooled - I fell hooklineandsinker for the notion that killing off the hereditaries was in-and-of-itself a good thing.

It took me a good long time to twig that what he had given us instead is the abortion we have today - as you describe - whilst at the same time eroding (eventually to nowt, as the few remaining hereditaries breathe their last) the Crown power-base in the Palace of Westminster.

This very effectively deprived the Monarch of the ability to hold Parliament to account, and thus demolished (in all but name) the cherished checks-and-balances that supposedly safeguard our democracy and our treasured yet imaginary (imaginary because it is un-documented, which suits very well the likes of the aforementioned Rt Hon gentleman, hence remains an issue never to be addressed).

Mother of all Parlaiments? Greatest and oldest of all democracies?

My arrse.
 
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Hereditary peers to remain, fixed limit on the gimme ennobled types (no more than 60% of the hereditary numbers) and political leanings to be in balance, ie, wait for a labour peer to kark it before another is allowed to be bumped up onto the red leather.

Lizzie Deux given the power to pull the plug instanter on anyone pissing her off. I reckon she's canny enough to use that threat wisely.
 
Mother of all Parlaiments? Greatest and oldest of all democracies?

My arrse.


I totally agree.

Like many other things in this country (the legal system and the NHS for examples) it, perhaps, was suitable once but with the changes in the education of the population and information Mother of all Parliaments needs a facelift.

As for the H of L. Where did I put the piano wire?
 

Chef

LE
Be careful what you wish for.

The Rt Hon MP for Sedgemoor was behind the most recent "reform" of the Hise Of Lairds.

He had me fooled - I fell hook, line and sinker for the notion that killing off the hereditaries was in-and-of-itself a good thing.
Edited for brevity.

This is of a part with the whole 'If it's new , it's good' idea along with the 'cool Brittania' schtick which seems to have replaced the old idea of 'If it ain't broke don't fix it'

The old house of lords with mostly hereditary peers seemed to work as well as the new abortion if not better.

How much of an effect has it had on the HoC's work?

'Toe the line om this son and there'll be a peerage in it for you'. Type of corruption.

As it stands it's merely the local version of the Brussels dumping ground for those who failed to make the grade in politics. Indeed some have done the double, MiLord Mandelson springs to mind.

The preponderance of Lib-Dems is an affront to any pretence that the second chamber represents the people and since many are placemen of one sort or another they can't be said to be too independent in their votes.

As I say the old system wasn't perfect but this version is worse and the idea of a second elected chamber doesn't inspire confidence. More people in power who've got there not by an accident of birth but by oiling their way up the same greasy pole that MPs go up and they spend more time in-fighting and lining their own pockets.

Think of the Crime Commissioners and you'll get an idea of how much the British public will engage with another layer of 'democracy'.
 

Boxer96

Old-Salt
Thanks for posting this and reminding me what an excellent Political Commentator Mr Letts is. I miss his daily column in the Daily Mail, ripping in to the Political class. He is absolutely spot on about the Upper House - a disgraceful, overblown mix of placemen and women and vanity appointments.
I agree about QL. I was disappointed at first that he replaced the excellent Patrick Kidd however he now appears to be doing a good job.
 
She's lost that (see my previous) already.

How high the chances the other house is gonna reinstate it?

Yup. That's why I mentioned it. The other house needs a guillotine on the steps of parliament and a random lotto draw to lop off five heads a week until they focus their attention on the job at hand.

Part of that would be ending the Blairite power grab and returning to Her Maj the tools to sort out the wasters and scoundrels.
 
Edited for brevity.

This is of a part with the whole 'If it's new , it's good' idea along with the 'cool Brittania' schtick which seems to have replaced the old idea of 'If it ain't broke don't fix it'

The old house of lords with mostly hereditary peers seemed to work as well as the new abortion if not better.

How much of an effect has it had on the HoC's work?

'Toe the line om this son and there'll be a peerage in it for you'. Type of corruption.

As it stands it's merely the local version of the Brussels dumping ground for those who failed to make the grade in politics. Indeed some have done the double, MiLord Mandelson springs to mind.

The preponderance of Lib-Dems is an affront to any pretence that the second chamber represents the people and since many are placemen of one sort or another they can't be said to be too independent in their votes.

As I say the old system wasn't perfect but this version is worse and the idea of a second elected chamber doesn't inspire confidence. More people in power who've got there not by an accident of birth but by oiling their way up the same greasy pole that MPs go up and they spend more time in-fighting and lining their own pockets.

Think of the Crime Commissioners and you'll get an idea of how much the British public will engage with another layer of 'democracy'.
100% agree.

Sadly, I haven't the first realistic inkling how to even begin to un-up-fvck-it.

ETA:
. . . . although the proposal from @Lardbeast at #14 (above) has certain simplicity to it, which is attractive.
 
@Lardbeast.
Noting another poster and your reference to Her Maj retaining some power to would over the HoL I'm happily in accord with... however, would the next in line show similar gravitas?
 
That's the $64000 question. However, one would hope his mum would have in place advisors with nasty attitudes and a sane outlook to point him in the right direction until Sprog#1 relieves him.

TBH, I think he has the compassion and is sensible enough to listen to good advice. He may not be right up there with Lizzie Deux as a shining role model, but I think he'll do a good job holding the line for Wills.
 

Chef

LE
100% agree.

Sadly, I haven't the first realistic inkling how to even begin to un-up-fvck-it.

ETA:
. . . . although the proposal from @Lardbeast at #14 (above) has certain simplicity to it, which is attractive.

Blast! I was hoping you'd have the DS solution.

As a rule of thumb anything that all parties agree on which involves their work and remuneration should, as an SOP, be instantly rejected.

@Lardbeast's idea has much to recommend it but how long before the MPs either arranged a stand in for themselves or the guillotine was changed to a feather duster?

Hence my suggested SOP.
 
That would depend into which the orifice the feather duster gets savagely hammered.
 
Be careful what you wish for.

The Rt Hon MP for Sedgemoor was behind the most recent "reform" of the Hise Of Lairds.

He had me fooled - I fell hooklineandsinker for the notion that killing off the hereditaries was in-and-of-itself a good thing.

It took me a good long time to twig that what he had given us instead is the abortion we have today - as you describe - whilst at the same time eroding (eventually to nowt, as the few remaining hereditaries breathe their last) the Crown power-base in the Palace of Westminster.

This very effectively deprived the ability of Monarch to hold Parliament to account, and thus demolished (in all but name) the cherished checks-and-balances that supposedly safeguard our democracy and our treasured yet imaginary (imaginary because it is un-documented, which suits very well the likes of the aforementioned Rt Hon gentleman, hence remains an issue never to be addressed).

Mother of all Parlaiments? Greatest and oldest of all democracies?

My arrse.
Nothing that MEMBER for Sedgefield did was to the benefit of this great nation. Mostly his reforms simply lined his and his hideously UGLY wife's pockets.
 
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