A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too many lords a-leaping - the House is full!

The serried ranks of peers
David Cameron has been told by a cross-party group of senior peers that the House of Lords is "full" and he must stop creating new members. The prime minister has created more peers more quickly than any of his post-war predecessors, having ennobled 117 people in less than a year. The trouble is that the House of Lords is now seen as a kind of alma mater for old politicians from the House of Commons. They should be reminded of the late Mr. George Howard of Castle Howard fame. "There's nothing grand about the nobility!", he once said.

It has been remarked that the influx of retirees from the other place has coarsened debate, led to rancorous tones on occasions and even led to animosities. It also means that, a couple of peers short of 800, the House of Lords is packed to the gunwales. This is crazy. The House of Lords was once almost all made up of hereditary peers. Then Blair came along - "Well, yeah, look, but!" - and got rid of all but 92. This was to assuage some kind of democratic deficit he'd imagined in a dream. No doubt as an antidote to his democratic deficits at the ballot box, by being elected on only 20% of the total electorate's support.

The House of Lords works best when it is not interfered with or abused from without. Life peers should be appointed for their expertise, advice they can give. Time-serving is not a big brownie point here. I'm in favour of the House of Lords as it is currently. It is accessible to the general public. Maybe that's why the House of Commons is suspicious? Anyone can write to or communicate with a peer. In fact, not having a constituency makes for a completely different way of dealing with political interaction. There are peers from theatrical backgrounds, farming, educational, scientific, legal backgrounds. Yes, you get that in the House of Commons, but not without a rigid party line being attached.

I think David Cameron should be wary of pushing more in. If it's some odd idea to sink the ship, he might find a mutiny on his hands before that happens. Leave well alone, sir. This ship is built to last!


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