22 October 2006

The end of the peer show at last?

Today’s Sunday Times (as well as plentu of other sources) is carrying a leaked government memo which indicates, perhaps, that movement on Lords reform may at long last be forthcoming.

A plan, drawn up by Jack Straw, the Commons leader proposes that the House of Lords will be reduced in size by more than a third to about 450, of which half will be elected. Life peerages will be abolished and the number of women and ethnic minorities substantially increased.

In addition peers would be allowed to sit in the Lords for no more than three parliamentary terms No single party would be allowed to command an overall majority, no matter how big its majority in the Commons.

The current system of attendance allowance would also be swept away. Instead, peers would be paid a salary and expected to work full-time, a change that could treble the current cost of £13m to the taxpayer despite the reduction in the number of lords.

Although the Tories and Liberal Democrats (and probably a fair few Labour members too) are expected to demand a bigger proportion to be elected the proposals for an equal mix of elected and appointed members is seen as a significant breakthrough in efforts to reach all-party agreement on Lords reform.

One Liberal Democrat peer close to the negotiations said: “The Lords reform logjam is breaking up. You can really feel the earth move when even Jack Straw, a hardcore constitutional conservative, is backing a 50% elected House of Lords.” However, Tom McNally, the Lib Dem leader in the Lords, warned Straw that allowing political appointments to continue would fail to address public fears over abuses and would create a system that was “institutionally corrupt”.

Proposals are expected to be put to a free vote in the Commons after Christmas, with the first elections and appointments to the new upper house taking place at the next general election

What is proposed does not go as far enough for my liking but at least it shows the Lords reform has not been brushed totally to one side. I do have one question: we are we are still debating the fate of our unelected upper chamber in the 21st Century?


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of the Tories wanting more elected. They have a consistent record of opposing Lords reform, and when the majority of hereditaries were remove dof their voting/participatory rights, the Tories screamed foul.

Bunch of bloody hypocrites.

mullet said...

jeez, i've missed a whole lot!

jams o donnell said...

Pretty ironic eh Gert? You never know, they'll drop their demand for transportation of anyone under the age of 40 next!

Welcome back Mullets. Long time no see!

Steve Bates said...

Everything reminds me of rhymes. Back in 1999, when Burke's Peerage started mentioning the fact that perhaps 40 percent of the peerage was born out of wedlock, I wrote some doggerel titled "Burke's Peering". It began,

You'll not find it writ in Burke's,
That the peers may act like jerks.
Nor 'tis writ, though often said,
Nobles should be better-bred.


Verses beyond that one get rather impolite. If you think you'd care to read the whole thing, jams, I'll post it somewhere on the YDD site.

Americans are of course uncomfortable with the whole notion of hereditary power... but at the moment, we hardly have any room to talk.

Thanks to you, jams, I'm learning a lot about politics and government in your neck of the woods. I appreciate that!

Yellow Doggerel Democrat

mullet said...

Ta jams! Was in ireland & was mortified to find that the all-in-one spud dish is nothing more than an urban legend! :0

jams o donnell said...

Go on Steve I'd love to see it! Nedless to day I won't scream treason! Seriously I am pleased you find my blog interesting

Aww Mullets, shame you didn't get your multi spud.. you know you could make legend come true by making it yourself!

Steve Bates said...

jams, I put it in a HaloScan comment. Try here. Hey, I told you it was rude!

I won't scream treason! - jams

LOL! As you probably know, the libel laws run a bit differently over here; truth is an absolute defense against a charge of libel. In its own rude way, the doggerel is most certainly true!

jams o donnell said...

Excellent stuff Steve! I love it!