Author Box
Articles Categories
All Categories
Articles Resources

House of Lords: Time Not for Change, But for Total Abolition

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 126

A week is said to be a long time in politics. Yet five thousand weeks, and countless debates, white papers, Royal commissions and public consultations, have not enabled British parliamentarians to carry out much needed reforms to its upper chamber. The problem was highlighted in 1911 by the Liberal Government of Lloyd George, which passed a Parliament Act which said 'it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of a hereditary basis.' The same pledge was made by the Labour party when it came to power in 1997 on the manifesto promise that it would reform the House of Lords by ending hereditary peerages and creating a democratically elected upper chamber.

When it came to power the government led by Tony Blair reneged on this promise and decided that life peerages should be offered to people chosen by the government rather than elected by the people. This scheme was wide open to corruption, since people who contributed to party funds could buy a seat in the House of Lords, thereby getting a title and membership of one of London's most exclusive clubs, which was heavily subsided from the national exchequer.

Again, in the 2010 general election, all three parties promised to take action to bring about Lords reform, the Coalition government promising 'to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation.' These changes have still not been made, making the House of Lords what the Guardian newspaper has described as 'the laughing stock of the western world.'

This is a tragedy, since the upper chamber had a propitious start in 1275 when Edward I, in desperate need of cash, called a meeting of both the barons and the representatives of the common people. The convention, which was called a Parliament from the French word parler. agreed to meet his need by raising taxes levied largely on their property holdings. Years later Henry VIII gave the two groups permission to hold regular meetings in the royal Palace of Westminster. This led to the establishment of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, which was created in what was originally St Stephen's Chapel. Now there seems little doubt that the House of Lords has passed its sell-by-date. It's an expensive anachronism which no longer serves a useful purpose. Its original raison d'etre was to supervise and amend the legislation carried out in the commons. That function has long since been superseded. In 1911 a Parliament Act was passed which removed the power of the Lords to veto money bills, a term which might be stretched to include most legislation. As the Guardian newspaper concluded earlier this month, 'the upper house provides no reliable protection against mad, bad or dangerous laws'.

As it stands today the 'other place' is a liability. Its members are now divided along party lines. They're chosen by the party bosses and responsive to the party whip. This introduces the risk of cronyism and, worst still, the threat that life peerages will be sold for party donations or phoney 'loans'. The solution is simple. The upper house must be abolished. There's nothing sacred about the system of bi-cameral government. Many legislatures, such as the parliaments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Israel and New Zealand are unicameral. Likewise the Scottish parliament and Welsh Assembly. According to the latest official estimates, the members expenses and general costs of running the House of Lords is well over £80 billion a year.

In a recession this money could be far better spent in other ways. No institution has a divine right to exist when it ceases to serve a useful purpose. The House of Lords should be abolished without delay and turned into a five-star heritage hotel. The necessary act of dissolution has already been written. 'The Commons of England assembled in Parliament, finding by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England to be continued, have thought fit to ordain and enact....that from henceforth the House of Lords in Parliament shall be....wholly abolished'. It beggars belief, but that edict was in fact was written on the 19th March 1649.

© http://www.donaldnorfolk.co.uk

http://www.donaldnorfolk.co.uk

Source: EzineArticles
Was this Helpful ?

 
0
 
0
 
Rate this Article
 vote(s)
Feedback
Print
Re-Publish

Article Tags:

Abolition Of House Of Lords

,

Cash For Honours Scandal

,

Parliamentary Reform

Rather than blame others, take personal responsibility to reduce our dependence on oil by using less of petroleum derived products. Repeatedly we are hearing about oil spills, rising prices on oil

By: Kyles Humphrey l News & Society > Energy l October 17, 2012 lViews: 233

Traditional analysis of debt and deleveraging (the process where households, corporations and governments are forced to reduce their overall debt) is often biased and incomplete. Opinions of how to

By: Ben Esget l News & Society > Economics l August 11, 2012 lViews: 295

In this high paced digital age, it's easy to become displaced from the people and places around you. However, it's important to support your community and your neighbors who live in it, and work hard

By: Monai Gupta l News & Society > Politics l July 11, 2012 lViews: 331

In a bold, unpredictable move, President Obama declared on Monday his desire to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the highest-income earners, by which he means anyone richer than Al and Peg

By: Scott Spiegel l News & Society > Politics l July 10, 2012 lViews: 227

Bipartisanship isn't always sweet. Especially when it comes to the politics of sugar.

By: Larry M. Elkin l News & Society > Politics l July 09, 2012 lViews: 236

In a direct reflection of the financial market's currently unsteady nature, the wholesale energy markets tumbled to a four-month low at the end of May. The bearish market was thanks to the continuing

By: Graham N Paul l News & Society > Energy l July 09, 2012 lViews: 221

In this high paced digital age, it's easy to become displaced from the people and places around you. However, it's important to support your community and your neighbors who live in it, and work hard

By: Monai Guptal News & Society > Politicsl July 11, 2012 lViews: 331

In a bold, unpredictable move, President Obama declared on Monday his desire to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all but the highest-income earners, by which he means anyone richer than Al and Peg

By: Scott Spiegell News & Society > Politicsl July 10, 2012 lViews: 227

Bipartisanship isn't always sweet. Especially when it comes to the politics of sugar.

By: Larry M. Elkinl News & Society > Politicsl July 09, 2012 lViews: 236

Propaganda is used to manipulate the people into actually voting for politicians who are in direct opposition the their interest. We the people don't even realize when we are being taken advantage of

By: David M Lawrencel News & Society > Politicsl July 08, 2012 lViews: 193

If it's ok for a black comedian to make a joke about White People's Day on a major U.S. holiday like the 4th of July, Independence Day, then it should be equally ok for a white comedian to make a

By: Curtis D Bradleyl News & Society > Politicsl July 07, 2012 lViews: 199

P. A. Sangma is an Indian politician who has been announced as the president candidate for July 2012 president election of India by the opposing parties including Bharatiya Janata Party. He

By: Suhaina Mazhar Sumazlal News & Society > Politicsl July 07, 2012 lViews: 169

There is one clear way in which the philosophies of the East and West differ. In the West we believe that we should be constantly struggling to improve our lot.

By: Donald Norfolkl Book Reviews > Psychologyl July 17, 2011 lViews: 132