The party interests that have stalled Lords reform

John Harris is obviously right (The Lords is a scandal in plain sight. If we won’t abolish it now, then when?, 15 novembre), but he overlooks a revealing episode in the saga of failed attempts at modernisation.

MPs gave a record 338 majority to the coalition government’s reform bill in July 2012, with overwhelming support in all three major parties. tuttavia, il Lavoro duro e faticoso leadership was determined to undermine Nick Clegg, the minister in charge of the bill, e, alongside Tory reactionaries, prevented progress in the committee stage. Had they stuck to their principles, a much smaller elected senate – with no opportunities for purchased peerages – would now be well on its way to completion.

Conservatives have backed wholesale reform when it suited them – to decry a Labour prime minister’s personal patronage, per esempio. The extra scandal is that party leaders choose to maintain this anachronism to divert attention from even more dangerous threats to our democracy elsewhere.
Paul Tyler
Former Lib Dem spokesperson on political and constitutional reform

Replacing the House of Lords is inevitably going to be a slow process, but a modest start would be removing half of its membership. A couple of independent auditors could list the number of days put in by peers (including Zoom appearances) as a percentage of the maximum possible for each individual over a particular period – say, for the five years up to 5 novembre 2021. The bottom 400 could be given a month or so to clear their desks, say goodbye to staff, hand in passes, etc. Taking their archaic titles with them could be optional.

Il resto 400 might wish to express their mind as to how citizens’ juries could usefully play a creative role in working towards a new sort of revising chamber of perhaps 100 membri. This simple shrinkage model could do wonders for public awareness of constitutional issues and create the right environment for completing reform. Getting a sensibly elected, modernised House of Commons may prove to be rather more difficult.
Geoff Reid

John Harris raises many important points when highlighting the class-based anachronism and the corrupt cash-for-peerages scandals relating to the second chamber. tuttavia, he appears to miss another major problem, namely the right of Church of England bishops to sit in this legislative chamber, thus making the UK a de facto theocracy rather than a democracy, albeit with a monarch as head of state. There is only one other functioning state in the world currently known as a theocracy, with its religious leaders sitting in the state legislature: Iran.
Francoise Murray

In dicembre 2019, the current administration promised us that in its first year it would establish a constitution, democracy and rights commission to look at “the broader aspects of our constitution” in order “to come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates”.

Given the combination of a lack of any news from the commission, the current prime minister’s fondness for creating new peers, and the opposition’s vagueness on the subject, I wonder which we will see first – a comprehensive set of proposals from the commission, or the abolition of the House of Lords? Somehow I think we will see neither.
Paul Tattam
Chinley, Derbyshire

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