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David Boothroyd

Heredity is not random. But OK, how about instead of the landed farming families we had in the pre-1999 House of Lords, how about selecting your 300 families from among the regulars at Yorkshire miners' socials and working mens' clubs in the North of England? That would be fair, surely.


I would like to see a mechanism for including talented and experienced people from beyond the two worlds of business and matters spiritual proposed by Andrew.

What about retired diplomats, ambassadors, generals, senior cabinet secretaries etc. One of the great strengths of the current appointed system is the option of including people such as this.

Even former cabinet ministers and prime ministers have a wealth of experience in government (and in what works and what doesn't).

Ken Stevens

Anything other than a fully elected second chamber is a logical absurdity.

... and yet it seems to have worked over the centuries. Elections to the Upper House would reduce it to a clone of the Commons, so then might as well not bother with it at all and go unicameral.

Not sure about the feasibility of return to the hereditary principle, though. Given that there was no longer the expectation of inheriting a seat in the Lords, has the current generation actually been bred to leadership & responsibility or are they just like the rest of us oiks now?


The system proposed above is fairly attractive. At any rate, I strongly agree that an elected upper chamber would be a bad thing. I will not vote for Mr Cameron at all at the next election if he votes for a 60% or more elected upper chamber, and shall abstain.

I have no complex schemes of my own, and would be happy with the status quo ante Blair. But perhaps this proposal would be more stable.


Regarding the Heredity option as being random. Are you honestly being serious? Comments such as "this would allow them to be trained from birth" are frankly absurd. How much advance training do our current representatives have (ignoring the fact that the growth of career politicians has done little or nothing to improve matters in the ability of MPs to administer matters, and in many cases has done more to create a breed of people who are out of touch with the wishes of the majority of the population, incapable of managing anything, and driven by a sense of their own importance). Look at the current HofC and you will see no towering giants, but a room full of pygmies fighting ignobly over scraps fed to them by focus groups, and image consultants, yet you propose more of them. As for the workers representatives, have we moved to the socialist workers paradise whilst I was on the tube this morning? Who will decide which organisations should represent whom? As I understand it there is debate over whether the BMA actually represents doctors, or do we just run along with the status quo?

These organisations are equally as isolated and unrepresentative (I mean is Bob Crowe really representative of the thoughts of his membership?)

Whilst I normally read your thoughts and posting withs great interst as you have some interesting thoughts and ideas, I can only assume you had a busy week and knocked something up on the back of a fag packet to meet you deadline.

Quite simply elect the second house, define the rules and let them get on with it. The ideal solution would be one of deadlock and we can get on with our lies and less interference.

Andrew Lilico


The realm of retirement might be interesting. One possibility might be to embody that within the world-of-work element, so that some portion of the places (e.g. one sixth) might go to delegates of groups representing the retired.


One salient way in which the Union of the United Kingdom has been weakened since 1997 has been through New Labour’s ongoing assault on parliamentary democracy, be it the use of the 1911 Parliament Act to push through contentious legislation repeatedly rejected by the House of Lords but passed by the House of Commons – i.e., the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, the Sexual Offences (Amendment)Act 2000 and the Hunting Act 2004 – or as the greater use of Parliamentary Guillotines to restrict the time available for debating and scrutinizing primary legislation both on the floor of the House of Commons and in Standing Committees, not to mention the ever-increasing use of undemocratic delegated/secondary legislation and, most famously, through so-called “reform” of the House of Lords.


On the latter point, it should not be forgotten that the Labour Party’s 1997 General Election Manifesto stated “The House of Lords must be reformed. As an initial self-contained reform, not dependent on further reform in the future, the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute. This will be the first stage in a process of reform to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative. The legislative powers of the House of Lords will remain unaltered” .

The Manifesto continued “The system of appointment of life peers will be reviewed. Our objective will be to ensure that, over time, Party appointees as life peers more accurately reflect the proportion of votes cast at the previous General Election. We are committed to maintaining an independent cross-bench presence of life peers. No one political party should seek a majority in the House of Lords.

“A committee of both Houses of Parliament will be appointed to undertake a wide-ranging review of possible further change and then to bring forward proposals for reform. We have no plans to replace the monarchy” .

Following Royal Assent being given to other controversial reforms – including Bills to establish the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly, incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK domestic law, and reform the voting system for European Parliamentary Elections in England, Scotland and Wales – within eighteen months of New Labour coming to office in 1997, the Government announced proposals to end the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords in the Queen’s Speech on 24 November 1998. However, in failing to reach agreement with Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition – let alone the smaller opposition parties in Parliament – on the eventual composition and size of the House of Lords, it seemed premature to me at the time for the Government to proceed with its proposal to end the right of the hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords without putting in place safeguards to stop the replacement of one unelected (but nevertheless valuable) revisory chamber with another, which may have lacked the knowledge and impartial wisdom of the existing Upper House. In the event, a misnamed “compromise proposal” was accepted to allow hereditary peers to elect ninety-two of their number to continue to sit and vote in the House of Lords, whilst all other hereditary peers would have their rights to participate in debates and divisions in the Lords rescinded, although the rights of the remaining hereditary peers are now threatened under the second stage of Labour’s reforms.

It is a matter of regret to me that Opposition parties (particularly the Conservative Party, the UK Independence Party and the Ulster Unionist Party) did not mount a more vigorous defence of the status-quo at the time of the first stage of Labour’s reform of the House of Lords for whilst, at first, it may appear unfair that hereditary peers should be able to sit and vote in the United Kingdom Parliament purely on the grounds of their ancestors’ deeds (moral or otherwise) and without their first having to contest and win an election on the basis of their words and deeds alone, their absence from first needing to be approved by a political party as a suitable candidate and secondly from being selected by a constituency party to contest an election (before finally winning an election) does mean that hereditary peers are more likely to bring to Parliament an independence of mind that is so sorely lacking in the House of Commons, where prospective members are largely selected on the basis of their loyalty to a political party rather than either the conscience of their constituents or their personal convictions .

In Defence Of Hereditary Peers

It should not be forgotten, amidst the Labour Party’s claim that the presence of hereditary peers affords the Conservative Party an in-built majority in the House of Lords, that only titles and voting rights of hereditary peers are currently hereditary, political allegiances are not! There is no guarantee that any heir to any title will share the same political convictions of the present peer, anymore than there is that a present peer will share the beliefs of his/her ancestors.

It is also the case that the overwhelming majority of hereditary peers bring with them a breadth and depth of knowledge on a wider range of matters than directly-elected MPs in the Lower House, particularly in recent years as politics graduates have gone straight from university into being full-time research assistants to MPs, and then onto being MPs and Government Ministers themselves with little, or no, knowledge and understanding of life and work outside Parliament, in much the same way as the more politicised animals in the Young Conservatives once ascended the greasy pole of self-advancement by becoming National Chairman of the Young Conservatives’ Organisation having previously held office (in descending order) as one of four National Vice-Chairmen, an Area Chairman, a Constituency Chairman and lastly as a Branch Chairman, when the YCs were indeed the largest political youth organisation in the country. Contrary to New Labour disinformation, not all hereditary peers are Eton and Oxbridge educated landowners; the overwhelming majority were educated at other schools and/or universities and either are, or were, employed in a wide range of occupations and professions. It is precisely the differing educational, occupational and social backgrounds of hereditary peers which makes their contribution to debate so unique and interesting and, as the defeat of successive UK Government proposals in the House of Lords show, often more in-touch with public opinion than MPs in the directly-elected House of Commons, where loyalty to the Party Whip is the fundamental precondition for membership.

The continuity of hereditary peerages also confers upon the holder a reverence for the past and a concern for the future which is so often lacking in elected MPs (and some Party appointees as life peers) who view their licence to legislate as being not unlike the ownership of a property, to do with what they please, rather than a trusteeship to be bequeathed to future generations. That reverence for the past and concern for the future appears to be increasingly non-existent in the hearts and minds of New Labour on a wide range of issues and not just those pertaining to constitutional affairs.

Proposals For Future Reform

Having resisted the temptation to annul the right of all hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords in the first stage of its reform of the House of Lords, many in the Labour Party are now clamouring for the remaining ninety-two hereditary peers (who currently sit and vote in their Lordships’ House) to be evicted, whilst many in the Conservative Party – who earlier failed miserably to defend the hereditary principle – appear equally unable or unwilling to articulate the case for retaining hereditary peers and allowing them to continue to elect some of their number to sit and vote in the Upper House (either according to their rank – i.e., Baron/Viscount/Earl/Marquess/Duke – or their peerage, i.e., England/Scotland/Scotland/Great Britain/United Kingdom), in the same way that they currently elect ninety-two of their number to sit and vote in the House of Lords and as Peers of Ireland used to elect twenty-eight of their number to enjoy voting rights in their Lordships’ House following the Act of Union 1800 and prior to the enactment of the Irish Free State Agreement Act 1922.

At the same time, various other suggestions have been made for making the House of Lords more reflective of the proportion of votes cast at the previous General Election including allowing MPs to elect a number of life peers to form a second chamber in the same way as Northern Ireland MPs in the 1921-72 Stormont Parliament elected Members of the (now defunct) Northern Ireland Senate; creating a directly-elected second chamber of life peers elected by the electorate as a whole (possibly on a different voting system and for a different term of office from that used in elections to the House of Commons); creating a wholly-appointed second chamber of life peers appointed either by the Prime Minister of the day or a quasi-autonomous “Appointments Commission” (although just who would appoint the Members of the Appointments Commission is unclear) or creating a part-elected, part-appointed second chamber (even though when this option has been discussed in Parliament, MPs and Peers have been unable to agree among themselves as to the percentage of peers who should be elected and the percentage which should be appointed). However, all these options – in my humble opinion – compromise the independence of mind afforded to existing hereditary peers who are currently sit and vote in the House of Lords as of right, and which is fundamental both to preserving the historic rights and liberties of the Queen’s Subjects, and the hereditary principle which underpins the monarchy itself. For all these reasons, I strongly oppose any proposals to end the right of the remnant of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords, yet more strongly than I did the earlier eviction of many of our nation’s finest men and women from debating and voting in Parliament’s second chamber when they lost their right to sit in their Lordships’ House.

Future of Lords Spiritual

Hand-in-glove with the call to end the right of the remaining hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords are, of course, the calls either to end the right of the twenty-six Lords Spiritual to vote in the House of Lords and disestablish the Church of England or afford the representatives of other faiths and Christian denominations the right to sit and vote in the House of Lords as of right, to reflect the changing status of the United Kingdom from being a predominantly Christian (and, in particular, Protestant) country into either an agnostic/atheistic state or a multi-faith society. I am not a Member of the Church of England nor do I necessarily agree with many of the pontifications of its Bishops who, as many before me have said, often ‘preach the Gospel of Karl Marx not the Gospel according to St Mark’, but I nevertheless believe very strongly that the Established Church provides a bulwark against our national descent into syncretism and being governed by either Anti-Christian or atheistic supranational powers, and I am not therefore in favour of disestablishing the Church of England.

Furthermore, whilst the twenty-six Lords Spiritual are not hereditary peers but Peers of Parliament – in the sense that they are appointed by the Sovereign (in his/her role as Supreme-Governor of the Church of England and Defender of The Faith) on the advice of the Prime Minister, according to their level of seniority within the Established Church itself – it does seem to me that once one starts looking at reducing the number of Bishops that can sit and vote in the House of Lords and allowing representatives of other faiths statutory representation in the Lordships’ House as of right, one is in grave danger of rewriting historical arrangements which have served the nation well for centuries and putting in place a quota system for the representatives of various faiths and factions (or denominations) of faiths which would soon ferment greater division and hatred between differing (and often conflicting) faiths than currently exists, to the detriment of the rights and liberties of us all. Like it or not, the United Kingdom is a Protestant country, our laws have traditionally been based upon the teachings of the Ten Commandments, not the Koran; we forget at our peril the great sacrifice the Reformers made to ensure the Open Bible was available to all in our own language without its teachings being withheld from us.

The significance of the monarch’s role should not be under-estimated here for at the same time as many republicans and socialists make no secret of the fact that they would like to abolish the monarchy, all the time we have a monarchy whose role is both to be Head of State and Supreme-Governor (but not, as often incorrectly stated in the press, the Head) of the Church of England – as Christ alone is the Head of His church and no mortal sinner, be it the Queen or the Pope in Rome – then the monarch must robustly defend The (Evangelical Protestant Reformed) Faith s/he swore to maintain in the coronation oath. This makes void any nonsense by the Heir Apparent that, if and when he succeeds to the Throne, he wishes to be known simply as Defender of Faith (i.e., all faiths and none) not the Reformed Faith which distinguishes Protestantism from Roman Catholicism and all the world’s other religions.

Future of Law Lords

As to the call – which seems to be growing, following the enactment of the 1998 Human Rights Act – for the House of Lords to lose its role as the highest court in the land to facilitate the eviction of the twelve Law Lords from sitting and voting in their Lordships’ House and the creation of a separate Supreme Court, one cannot help feeling the current role of the Law Lords to be invaluable in preventing the enactment of overmuch bad legislation, without which (and particularly following the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK domestic law) the Crown (and, ultimately, the taxpayer) would end up footing a very expensive bill for unsuccessfully seeking to prosecute those who broke the very laws which more learned and experienced members of the legal profession no longer had any opportunity to help draft or shape when they were being debated in Parliament. Conscious as I am that Scotland has historically enjoyed its own legal system to England and Wales pre and post the 1707 Treaty of Union, and since 1999 has even had a considerable measure of autonomy following the creation of the new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, I remain unconvinced that excluding the Law Lords from sitting and voting in the House of Lords would buttress democracy, if anything it could weaken it as an ideological-driven Prime Minister could well be tempted to recommend to the sovereign that he/she appoints as Judges those whom he knew would either enforce the letter of any draconian laws his/her Government made in Parliament (without the counsel of legal expertise) or the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights (all the time the United Kingdom irresponsibly remains a signatory to the latter and Member of the Council of Europe).

Local Authority and Devolved Institution Representation in Parliament

It has also been suggested that Members of local authorities and/or the devolved institutions (i.e., Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly) and the unelected English Regional Assemblies could be permitted to elect X of their number to sit and vote in Parliament’s second chamber to make it “more representative” of the United Kingdom electorate as a whole: a noble suggestion one feels but for the fact that it may add to the confusion as to the role of the legislature and the purpose of local government, in particular whether the latter is primarily to give a democratic forum for executing and applying legislation (enacted in the United Kingdom Parliament) or represent local opinion. Moreover, one fears that returning nominated representatives from the devolved institutions and unelected English Regional Assemblies would facilitate the creation of a Federal Europe of the Regions as opposed to a Europe of Nation-States. In short, any future debate concerning membership of Parliament’s second chamber must first address its role, as without an understanding of its raison d’etre, any “reformed” upper house will fast be the subject of criticism and ridicule as the existing House of Lords has been, to the detriment of our historic rights and liberties.

Ultimately, any further reform of the House of Lords must command cross-party support and safeguard the role of the remnant of hereditary peers eligible to sit and vote in the Upper House. Proposals to end the right of the Law Lords and/or the Lords Spiritual from sitting and voting in their Lordships’ House should be rejected.

June 2007

N.B. Christopher Luke was Chairman of Easington Constituency Young Conservatives from 1986 to 1988. An Honorary Life Member of Queen’s University Belfast Ulster Unionist Association, he is also a former Member of the Monday Club Northern Ireland Policy Committee and a Past Treasurer of the London Swinton Circle, and currently both a Member of William Alexander Memorial Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1689 (of the Loyal Orange Institution of England) and Founder-Editor of UNIONIST (a non-party bi-monthly newsletter on current affairs affecting the UK written from a traditional unionist perspective).

An unsuccessful UK Independence Party Candidate for the Pembury Ward of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in the May 2007 Borough Council Elections, he is a Member of UKIP’s Constitutional Affairs Policy Committee. The views expressed in this article are, however, his own, and are not necessarily those of any organisation or political party with which he has been, or is currently, connected.

Comments, criticisms and suggestions on this article are welcome and should be sent to him at Flat 5 Kirkdale House, Kirkdale Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1 2SB.

* For a sample copy of UNIONIST and subscription details, please send your full name, address, telephone number and, if applicable, your e-mail address to Christopher Luke at the above address.

Common Sense

After last weeks proposal to abolish the Monarchy - sorry, elect the head of state -, Mr Lilico confirms both his essential unseriousness and his lack of Conservatism with this ludicrous scheme to abolish the House of Lords.

Andrew Lilico spouts weird schemes for constitutional reform like some 1970s Liberal Party councillor. The only mystery is why Tim and Sam think his self-indulgent ramblings are of any interest to a mainstream political audience.

Man in a Shed

The problem is that given the power of the second house political movements will always seek to control it.

I don't think your proposal provides sufficient acknowledgement of that fact.

What we will get is, like with the half backed anti-English devolution settlement - whatever will favour the long term interests of the Labour party. They will try to fix the constitution to stop the Conservative party ever being able to govern freely again.

That's what they mean by constitutional change.

Andrew Lilico

Common Sense@11:03

Thankyou for your kind remarks. What Conservative proposals do you have for reform of the House of Lords? (And among Conservative proposals I exclude a wholly-elected chamber, unless you are planning to offer a reason why that is Conservative.)


Any proposal to elect the Head of State and abolish the hereditary constitutional monarchy is anathema to me. You simply don't know what you are doing if you want to open that can of worms. Quite apart from your disloyalty to the monarch and the essential un-Englishness of the proposal, you are solving a problem that doesn't exist with a solution that promises to be a perpetual problem.

As to Lords reform, it should be abolished and replaced by a federal parliament. If the Commons (national parliaments) learnt to do their job properly the first time then it would not be necessary to have a second chamber to do it twice. Scotland and Wales manage perfectly happily with unicameral parliaments. Not being a metropolitan intellectual, I do not fear democracy. The combined UK parliament could sit and debate in the Lords chamber.

I would allow peers of first creation and lords spititual to have speaking but not voting rights in the mational parliaments on the unwritten understanding that they spoke on their areas of expertise only. This would keep their valuable non partisan advice and the peerage at the centre of national life.

Common Sense

Mr Lilico, I'm prepared to answer your question, although it's based on a logical fallacy. My proposal is to do nothing to the Lords because that's better than any scheme currently in prospect.

We should keep the title House of Lords and ensure the retention of the balance of power between the two chambers (ie - weighted in favour of the Commons).

Don't forget that the only reason we're talking about this at all is because Labour damaged what didn't need fixing by removing the hereditary peers.

In the long run we should bring them back but since that isn't currently realistic the best course of action is inaction.

Not a sentiment that is likely to appeal to an inveterate meddler like you.

Graeme Archer

hi Andrew. I often notice a small overlap between your very well-expressed thoughts and my inchoate, clumsily expressed, ones. FWIW, I have been boring dinner parties for years with the idea of random, jury-style selection for the upper chamber. I can't think of another mechanism by which we can have a revising upper house of authority which simultaneously respects the primacy of the lower house -- if we assume (as I do) that hereditary selection is not a go-er.

Actually my sympathy is with all those who wish that Blair had left well alone. But I don't think, given where we are now, that further inaction is necessarily the most attractive option. I would rather random selection than party appointees, or party lists via PR, for example.

Tim Roll-Pickering

The problem with doing nothing is that the situation currently exists whereby a government in office for a while can wind up appointing a vast portion of the Lords (and face the accusations that seats are for sale, which does nothing to secure popular acceptance).

And a part-elected, part-appointed chamber will not be stable in the long term. Just as Commons votes are currently analysed to see if Scottish MPs made the difference, a hybrid chamber will be analysed to see if the unelected are "thwarting" the will of the elected, and eventually the Upper House would become all elected. This is one of the reasons why successive Conservative governments backed away from Lords reform, even though they could see the benefits of a more popularly acceptable composition allowing for powers to be restored so it could act as a brake on a radical reforming government.

Far too much discussion of the Upper House is based around the composition rather than the role. It's often forgotten that the original reason for its composition was because the peers were a key interest in society at the time. Over centuries the Lords has evolved into a mix of an "extra time" deliberation chamber, a revising chaber and a "check & balance" on the Commons with very few powers to balance.

Upper houses around the world and throughout history can offer some ideas, although many had different basic starting points. The Northern Irish Senate (which I've just looked at for my blog - http://timrollpickering.blogspot.com/2007/07/on-second-chambers-senate-of-northern.html ) was primarily there for allowing extra time to consider bills and certainly not much of a check on the Commons at all (and frankly a waste of space that originated as an afterthought).

Germany, Australia and the US all have upper houses designed to represent the *states* not the people - the German Bundesrat is made up of delegates from the Länder governments, always ministers, with the power of veto over any legislation affecting the Länder, whilst the Australian Senators are directly elected state/territory wide with equal representation for each state regardless of population (less for territories) and with the Senate wielding almost equal powers to the House of Representatives (including the power to block supply and bring down the government that derives power from a majority in the lower House...). The resolution mechanism is a double dissolution (the House and all the Senate in one go, not just half, are elected) and then finally a post election joint sitting, where the House has a built in advantage with twice as many members, settles the fate of the disputed Bills.

The German, Australian and US (and other federal countries) models have merit in further examination only if the UK is going down the federal route and including a mechanism for the states/constituent nations to be represented as well as the people.

Otherwise we're back to a chamber for extra time & revising or checking & balancing - and the two have very different needs. Unless a workable form for an all nominated body can be devised, I think only an all elected house would work - staggering the terms (maybe 1/3 at a time) could tackle the "it just duplicates the Commons" and "which elected chamber is supreme?" concerns.


The current system seems to work as a check on the executive - keep that.

And the recent cabinet reshuffles showed the flexibility of the life peer system with non-politicians like Digby Jones and Pauline Neville Jones.


And just to add: One alteration could be County Councils could send one of their own as a delegate to ensure a voice at central govt.

Andrew Lilico

I don't think most of you really get it. "It ain't broke so don't fix it" simply isn't an option. The Labour Party is changing it. So far Conservatives have utterly failed to offer any serious Conservative proposals for reform of the Second Chamber or the Monarchy. It isn't going to stay as it was. If we don't want to end up with a Socialist or a Democrat Constitution (which I do not), then we have to produce our own, Conservative proposals. It's all very well saying that my proposals are tinkering, or that it isn't Conservative to make any proposals at all, but if we don't produce something a solution will be imposed upon us without our even complaining about it.

I offer my proposals precisely because I do not want an elected Upper Chamber. I see no positive gain in an elected Upper Chamber in our system - only loss. An elected Upper Chamber cannot, by its nature protect Liberty from Democracy. As a revising chamber it would serve no function, because it would not reflect any different constituency/interest from that of the Commons (unless we propose to make the UK a federation). It would simply create legislative gridlock. Better to abolish it altogether and just have a strong Select Committee structure.

On the other hand, there are alternatives to an elected Upper Chamber that *would* serve useful constitutional functions. Once we know what these functions are, we can determine a membership that could deliver them. I've offered my scheme. I am sure that there are variants on my scheme that would represent improvements. But an all-elected Upper Chamber isn't one - if you don't want an all-elected Upper Chamber, you'd better argue for what you do want instead.

Russell Le Page

There seems to be some debate here about whether this proposal or that is "Conservative" (or "conservative", but let's not get into that). The point that Andrew makes in his last comment is the key one - conservatism is no longer an option because change has happened and is guaranteed to happen again. That puts a responsibility on us as people interested in public and political life to say where we would like that change to lead us.

I'm in favour of party lists, fixed unrenewable 15 year terms, elected by thirds on the basis of the GE and set 5 year terms for the lower house. But maybe I'm just an inveterate meddler...


Which completely avoids my suggestion to cut the Gordian know by abolishing the Upper Chamber and going for a federal Parliament.

Not tinkering but real reform
And an English ntional parliament would be very popular which is not something you could say for most constitutuional proposals

Tim Roll-Pickering

Party lists are evil and prone to encourage internal strife over the ranking order!

And any upper house that is directly (s)elected via the election results for the lower house, regardless of whether that's over one, two or three elections, is going to just mirror the lower house. If you just want an upper house for extra time/revising/somewhere to dump retired politicians * then it's fine, but if you want an upper house to serve as a check & balance to defend against the tyranny of the majority then somehow I think this model would be disappoint. If the upper composition is going to be directly based on elections then let the people vote directly (and via STV not via lists) - then they can have the option to ticket split and vote one party for the Commons and another for the upper house.

* Another point no-one seems to be thinking about is that replacing guarenteed seats for life peers is going to make it harder to get long standing MPs to step down...

Common Sense

Mr Lilico - I stopped taking you seriously when I read your article arguing that perhaps we should join the Euro after all.

On the HoL, why on earth can't we argue for the status quo on the grounds that Brown's proposed changes would make things worse?

Contrary to your illogical assertions, inaction is always an option. In this case, it's the wisest one.

I'd hate to see your response to a government proposal to abolish FPTP.

Andrew Lilico

Common Sense@2:50

I'm glad you enjoyed my article on whether we should reconsider our opposition to the euro: http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2007/05/dr_andrew_lilic.html

No change is often an option - indeed it is often the best option. But not always. In this case it certainly isn't an option, and isn't even ideal. We Conservatives should have reformed the House of Lords ourselves when we had the chance. Just yelling "No change! No change!" now will simply have the result that there is no Conservative input into what happens - we will almost certainly end up with a Democrat constitution. My solution is better than that.

Jonathan Sheppard

Why not just have a national lottery draw - with the catchphrase "It could be you" (no where have I heard that before) 600 lucky winners get a place in the Lords - only one ticket per person mind you. We cant have people buying a place in our legislature!

Constiutional bore

The major problem with the Lords has been the link between party donations and the award of peerages. But given recent events and the transparency we now have in pary funding leaders are unlikely to go on appointing those who bankroll parties. Many life peers do come from a variety of backgrounds and organisations eg CBI. But we shouldn't formalise this into some corporatist system. The current conventions, in the best British tradition that the Mr Lilco consistently ignores, allow for flexibility. For example, when Sir Ian Blair steps down it may well be that he is considered unsuitable for a peerage due to a questionable record as Commissioner. And fleixibility in the positions considered suitable as a background is good too. For example, the importance of different trade unions varies over time. And I'm not sure I want Muslim organisations sending representatives without State veto. The Prime Minister (ie senior civil servants) and/or House of Lords Appointments Commission have shown themselves perfectly capable of appointing appropriate crossbench life peers, so why change?

And why change at all? Mr Lilco says that the Conservatives should have reformed the Lords when we had the chance, and should now do so to stave off worse reform. But it is wrong to suggest that revolution should be opposed by alternative revolution. Here's why?

1. Between 1911 and 1999 the Lords remained the same, save for the addition of life peers and a few minor changes. For 88 years we avoided radical reform by simply doing nothing radical while we were in power.

2. The more an insitution is changed the more it is liable to change in the future. The less it is changes the more entrenched it becomes. If we come into power and unilaterally introduce a bizarre mix of lottery and corporatism what is to stop the next government introducing their own pet project? The constitution is not a plaything for people to constantly meddle with, it is a framework under which the polity should operate.

3. We are not in power. Labour are, but have said they won't reform the Lords before the election. So we shouldn't be putting pressure on them to reform the Lords by devising our own scheme. We should just let the Lords be and do our best to block any reform attempts.

The Lords is fine as it is. Exepert, diverse, independent-minded. It strikes the right balance between giving way to the Commons and asserting itself. (Wouldn't a Lords which had half its membership chosen at random and half from mostly non-party organisations have a tendency to block the government of the day just a little too much?) It is a repository of centuries of history and tradition. It generally upholds conservative principles. We do not need a consitutional revolution, we do not need to abolish the monarchy, we do not need to join the euro. Are the Editor and Mr Lilco in some conspiracy to wind up ConservativeHome readers?


Re: the above post.

The Lords is not "fine as it is". 92 hereditaries is not enough, and I don't like this ability of parties to plonk whoever they like into the house of lords, whensoever they choose. Parties shouldn't run the country - they're just a means of organizing politicians into groups who can come to common agreements with each other. Parties having more or less total freedom to appoint whoever they like as a lord should end.

I do, on the whole, agree with the status quo ante view. But that issue could do with a tweak too. And I'll support anything that keeps hereditaries and avoids elected peers.

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