ARCHIVE: Government Reform Proposals for the House of Lords

[First Published on Thursday 2nd June 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

On May 17th the government introduced its Draft Bill for House of Lords Reform in the Commons and the Lords.

The Draft Bill proposes a move to an 80% elected upper house, with the remaining members appointed by recommendation of the Prime Minister.  The new House of Lords would be made up of 300 members, with the 240 elected members sitting for 15-year terms. Membership will not be renewable, which is intended to safeguard the independence of the elected members.

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ARCHIVE: Scaling the Heights of Lords’ Reform

[First Published on Wednesday 5th January 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

If you had risen to your feet in Parliament 100 years ago and asked the Prime Minister whether his planned reform of the House of Lords would be completed before you could make a telephone call from the top of Mount Everest, Mr Asquith would have doubted your sanity and dismissed your question as facetious.

And yet, as we await the promised Lords Reform Bill to turn decades of modernising dreams into a 21st-century reality, almost all the parameters of that long-desired reform are still undecided: the only casualty so far has been the majority of hereditary peers, whose right to sit in judgement over the elected Commons derived from an ancient forebear’s sometimes questionable service to the monarch of the day.

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ARCHIVE: Baroness Royall on House of Lords Reform: The government’s draft bill ducks the crucial constitutional questions

[First Published on Tuesday 9th August 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM THE CONSTITUTION SOCIETY PAMPHLET, THE END OF THE PEER SHOW?, AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD HERE, FREE OF CHARGE.

Nick Clegg’s proposed reforms to the House of Lords do not represent a new movement; there have been proposals and incremental reforms of the Lords for the past 100 years. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon argues that the current bill is ill-considered, and that it, through the introduction of elections, will significantly undermine the primacy of the House of Commons.

Reform

Reform of the House of Lords is 100 years old this year. At this moment, the coalition government is bringing forward its proposals to transform the current House – in effect abolishing it, according to critics of the plan – by finally making the election of its members the basis for the bulk of its composition.  An elected House of Lords has been the dream of many on the left for the past century – though some on the left, let alone the other parts of the political spectrum, believe this is an unthinking dream which will in fact debilitate future Labour governments.  The arguments are familiar.  Will the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition end them, by securing a change which has evaded constitutional reformers since 1911?

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ARCHIVE: Professor John Baker on House of Lords Reform: Appointment or election?

[First Published on Tuesday 9th August 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM THE CONSTITUTION SOCIETY PAMPHLET, THE END OF THE PEER SHOW?, AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD HERE, FREE OF CHARGE. 

The future of the House of Lords is the most important constitutional question of the present age, because if it is resolved badly there may be little left of a British constitution at all.  A constitution, whether written or unwritten, serves three fundamental purposes:

  • It defines the way in which power is to be lawfully exercised by the Government of the day.
  • It imposes limits on that power, so as to prevent absolutism and preserve basic values.  
  • And it provides some means of holding governments to account for the exercise of their power.  

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ARCHIVE: Mark Harper – the Government’s view on House of Lords Reform

[First Published on Friday 22nd July 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

The following is taken from the Constitution Society pamphlet, The End of the Peer Show?, available to download here, free of charge. 

The Government believes that people have a right to choose their representatives. That is the most basic feature of a modern democracy.

The House of Lords is well known for its wisdom and expertise.  However, it is undermined by the fact it lacks democratic authority as it is not directly elected by the British people. 

The Government published proposals on House of Lords reform on 17 May 2011, as a draft Bill and accompanying White Paper.  Consistent with the Government’s Programme for Government, the proposals provide for a wholly or a mainly elected second chamber, with elections using a system of proportional representation. The House of Lords would maintain its current role. It would continue to be a revising chamber, scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account. 

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ARCHIVE: Robin Archer: House of Lords reformers should look to the example of Australia

[First Published on Monday 6th June 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Dr Robin Archer of the LSE has explained the lessons the UK might learn from examining the history of the Australian Senate. The insights he offered, in an interview with The Constitution Society, are of particular interest in light of the government’s new proposals on reform of the House of Lords.

The Coalition Government introduced a Draft Bill this May proposing that the House of Lords move from being entirely appointed to 80% elected, using the Single Transferable Vote (a form of Proportional Representation) to recruit peers from large multi-member constituencies.

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14th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Lords Reform; more predictable in context than in implication?

[First Published on Monday 17th January 2011]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

An unspoken minor casualty of global warming has been the devaluation of the adjective ‘glacial’: as ice caps and glaciers melt more quickly, ‘glacial’ no longer adequately describes a process as numbingly slow as the reform of the House of Lords.

Radical changes in the constitution of the UK’s ‘upper’ House of Parliament have been openly desired since Gladstone’s era; but the heat of the furious debates has not thrown much light on either the composition or the powers of a reformed Lords.

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Was the Black Knight a member of the House of Lords?

[First Published on Friday 17th December 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Was the Black Knight a member of the House of Lords?

You must remember him: the implacable defender of a plank over a stream in Monty Python’s 1975 Holy Grail film, refusing to admit defeat even after all his limbs are chopped off and his opponent skirts around him and moves on. Well, it’s nearly 100 years since the powers of the Lords were curtailed, with Prime Minister Asquith’s promise of full reform to follow, and Britain’s ‘upper’ parliamentary chamber is still there: a mish-mash of hereditary and appointed characters.

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13th January 2001

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ARCHIVE: Coalition urged to put moratorium on Lords appointments

[First Published on Thursday 25th November 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

Constitutional expert Dr Meg Russell has warned that the Coalition pledge to make the political makeup of the House of Lords  reflect that of the lower House has put Parliament on an “unsustainable course” which will do “serious damage” if it goes unchecked.

The Constitution Unit’s deputy director voiced her concerns following the recent announcement of the latest round of peer appointments by the Coalition.  The 50 new names take the Prime Minister’s peerage list to the “unprecedented” level of 111 in the six months since his election and means that the number of Members in the Second Chamber now exceeds the level prior to the removal of hereditary peers in 1999.

ARCHIVE: Constituency boundaries – joining up the map of reform?

[First Published on Monday 8th November 2010]

The following post was first published on ConSoc’s previous site. It is recorded here as a window onto issues as they were at the time. For more up to date news on the Constitution and Constitutional reform, make sure to follow the ConSoc blog.

According to the Government “our political system is broken” and “we urgently need fundamental political reform”. 

The Coalition Agreement (the Government’s manifesto by another name) therefore groups a series of proposals for change in the paragraph entitled “political reform“, which Nick Clegg later identified as together forming “the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832”.

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