The End of the Peer show? Responses to the draft bill on Lords reform

[First Published on Tuesday 19th 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.

The end of the peer show? is a collection of responses to the Coalition Government’s reform proposals for the House of Lords, published in May 2011.

When The Constitution Society commissioned these essays we asked our contributors to focus on the specific proposals in the draft bill rather than on the broad narrative of incomplete reform which has been ongoing for a hundred years since the passage of the 1911 Parliament Act.

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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: The Constitution Society’s Evidence to the Lords Constitution Committee

[First Published on Wednesday 18th May 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 Constitution Society’s evidence to the House of Lords’ inquiry into Constitutional Reform was published on the 13th of May 2011. The Society used agreed principles of Good Government to assess the quality of the legislative process behind the recently enacted Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act (which led to May 5th’s referendum).

Asked by the Lords Constitution Committee whether constitutional laws should be considered to have a special character such that constitutional law-making is given special treatment, The Constitution Society suggested that a preliminary step should be to ensure compliance with basic standards of good government.

The Society took as its yardstick for due process the recommendations put forward in the Better Government Initiative’s report Good Government, published in January 2010 and welcomed at the time by both David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

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ARCHIVE: Crisis, What Crisis?

[First Published on Tuesday 13th April 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.

At a debate of the Society of Cogers on 19th April 2010, Nat le Roux, Chairman of the Trustees of the Constitution Society, argued that our problem may not lie with our constitution itself, but rather with the conduct of our politicians.  He suggested that the single biggest problem of contemporary democracy – is that all politicians are terrified of losing power, because the lesson of the last 30 years is that once you’ve lost power you don’t get it back for a generation.  

The full text of his speech appears here:

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