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It appears that the Government's Lords reform proposals are dead.

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Post on TSR and win a prize! Find out more... 10-04-2014
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    Government comes out against holding a referendum

    Seeing as Labour said they would only support reforms if they were paired with a referendum, and at least 100 Tory MPs are threatening to kill the programme motion when it comes before the Commons, I think this latest attempt to break the House of Lords is likely to fail.

    I'll hold back on uncorking the champagne just yet though
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    Good! The Lords should not be reformed!


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    I'd like to see reform, but not without a referendum and not with an elected upper chamber. I hope they kill this quickly.
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    I hope so. I always wanted to see Baron Samedi in the Lords.
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    May they rest in peace. Cue pretentious quoting of Burke.
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    The House of Lords is a relic of a bygone age. No, they don't have much power, but that any unelected individuals have any power is disgusting - especially after things like the Cash for Honours scandal and because of the fact that hereditary peers still exist. I was looking forward to those reforms. They'd have modernised our Upper House and made it actually useful for something beyond holding up legislation. There is literally no advantage to having it in it's current state.
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    (Original post by hyakushiki1234)
    The House of Lords is a relic of a bygone age.
    Meaningless statement.

    No, they don't have much power, but that any unelected individuals have any power is disgusting
    I disagree. The final say is with the Commons which has absolute freedom to override the Lords. In fact, the only thing which would hold them back from doing so is public opinion. It's perfectly democratic.

    What would be less democratic is two elected chambers competing for power.

    - especially after things like the Cash for Honours scandal and because of the fact that hereditary peers still exist. I was looking forward to those reforms.
    Cash for honours was found out because of the 1999 reforms and could be virtually eliminated by other means not including election.

    They'd have modernised our Upper House
    Meaningless statement.

    and made it actually useful for something beyond holding up legislation.
    I disagree. It would have made it a tool for undemocratic conservatism and an ill-informed block on radical reform. The present situation - of a Lords deferential to the elected Commons - is more democratic than having both elected.

    There is literally no advantage to having it in it's current state.
    There's plenty - certainly more than destructive election. In any case, many anti-electors don't argue for standing still - they oppose this kind of reform: populist, spurious, fallacial and dangerous.
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    (Original post by gladders)
    I disagree. The final say is with the Commons which has absolute freedom to override the Lords. In fact, the only thing which would hold them back from doing so is public opinion. It's perfectly democratic.

    What would be less democratic is two elected chambers competing for power.
    But the Lords crucially still have the power to hold back legislation. Since they're unelected then IMO they don't have have any legitimate power to do that - or anything else. Having two elected chambers works fine everywhere else in the world in lots of political systems - the US, the Diet of Japan &c - and it encourages cross-party talks rather than partisanship. Less efficient, certainly, but more democratic, I'd say.


    (Original post by gladders)
    Cash for honours was found out because of the 1999 reforms and could be virtually eliminated by other means not including election.
    It could, but the issue would have never existed in an elected Upper chamber. Cash for Honours was essentially buying a seat in Government and had it not been discovered then those Peers would still be there. Even in the most corrupt electoral systems, the corruption can be rooted out fairly quickly by means of an election.

    (Original post by gladders)
    I disagree. It would have made it a tool for undemocratic conservatism and an ill-informed block on radical reform. The present situation - of a Lords deferential to the elected Commons - is more democratic than having both elected.
    But it's almost entirely worthless as it is now. It can manage nothing beyond delays. Having a legitimate, reasonably powerful check on the Commons would be more democratic, especially if elections were staggered. One of the biggest problems with the Westminster Parliamentary system is that the majority power is generally an elective dicatorship which has no meaningful check on its power. An elected Upper chamber would change that.

    (Original post by gladders)
    There's plenty - certainly more than destructive election. In any case, many anti-electors don't argue for standing still - they oppose this kind of reform: populist, spurious, fallacial and dangerous.
    How is election destructive? This reform certainly isn't populist and nor is it dangerous. It's downright sensible since it would end the last traces of aristocratic, undemocratic rule in Britain and it would give the Upper House the legitimacy it has always lacked.
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    (Original post by hyakushiki1234)
    But the Lords crucially still have the power to hold back legislation. Since they're unelected then IMO they don't have have any legitimate power to do that - or anything else. Having two elected chambers works fine everywhere else in the world in lots of political systems - the US, the Diet of Japan &c - and it encourages cross-party talks rather than partisanship. Less efficient, certainly, but more democratic, I'd say.
    You say 'everywhere else' when in fact it's not the case. Direct election of the Upper House elsewhere in the world is in fact no more commonplace than our system.

    And no, I don't think it helps in producing consensus (which is what I think you're driving at): it certainly isn't the case in the US. Moreover, consensus isn't straightforwardly democratic. If a minority can frustrate the majority, then it's by its very nature less than purely democratic.

    Moreover, such compromises obscure the line of accountability between government and governed.

    It could, but the issue would have never existed in an elected Upper chamber. Cash for Honours was essentially buying a seat in Government and had it not been discovered then those Peers would still be there. Even in the most corrupt electoral systems, the corruption can be rooted out fairly quickly by means of an election.
    I think it would have been replaced by a similar system in all but name, particularly with the voting system the Government is proposing for the new system. All people would have to do is purchase their spot on the party candidate lists and wait to get elected.

    But it's almost entirely worthless as it is now. It can manage nothing beyond delays.
    I don't think it's entirely worthless at all; it's a highly active and valuable chamber, not least for the expertise of its members. In the field of scrutinising delegated legislation and European Union matters, it is a flagship example for the rest of the world.

    Its purpose is to support - not necessarily oppose - the elected House in its work. It does the majority of the scrutinising because the Commons is too busy to handle it, but it still leaves the final say in the hands of the people's representatives. If it were given the right to do anything more than delay, I would say it - under any form of composition - is undermining democracy.

    Having a legitimate, reasonably powerful check on the Commons would be more democratic, especially if elections were staggered.
    If there's a check on the chamber that represents the people then it is, by definition, less than purely democratic. You're free to prefer a dilution of democracy in the hope of better government - but you can't claim both.

    Unicameral chambers are the purest form of representative democracy; I consider those that argue for the House of Lords' abolition to be far more consistent in their beliefs than those who think electing the Lords is more democratic.

    One of the biggest problems with the Westminster Parliamentary system is that the majority power is generally an elective dicatorship which has no meaningful check on its power. An elected Upper chamber would change that.
    I don't think such a claim survives close scrutiny. The British Parliament is one of the most independently-minded in Europe (yes, it is) - certainly on a par with Germany's for example. The main difference is that other Parliaments place a greater emphasis on committee work, but in the last 40 years that has been changing in Westminster. The Commons is quite good at forcing its hand on the government, but it does it in tandem with the expertise and independence of the Lords (although it can go it alone if need be), and a lot of it is achieved through party mechanisms to avoid humiliation in the House.

    Even if your claim were true, I fail to see how having two chambers elected would break party dominance. You would essentially be breaking the system down, preventing decisions being made. This would be good for conservatism, but bad for democracy: particularly as, over time, people would become increasingly less tolerant of compromise, as has happened in the US.

    How is election destructive? This reform certainly isn't populist and nor is it dangerous. It's downright sensible since it would end the last traces of aristocratic, undemocratic rule in Britain and it would give the Upper House the legitimacy it has always lacked.
    It is destructive because it would destroy the clear accountability between government and governed we presently enjoy: one government is responsible for everything that happens on its watch, and is not capable of shrugging of responsibility by saying 'it was the Opposition, they forced us to do this'. The US Republicans are notorious for obstructing the Democratic programme, for example, and them saying it's the Democrats' fault for not compromising enough.

    Our parliamentary system is reflected in many other democratic states: France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Canada, and Ireland, for example - which all hold to the tenet that two elected chambers is self-defeating. They copy us, in having one chamber directly elected and supreme, and the other representing something else, and insulating them from elections. The principle of electing both Houses is not as universal as you claim.

    I'd be much more sympathetic with those who argue for Britain turning into a unicameral state. I still disagree with the idea, but it's at least coherent - it would be more democratic, wouldn't impact accountability, and is much more universally upheld worldwide than two elected chambers.
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    I personally sit in favour of the House of Lords in general, at present it is in a poor state and I do think that there are many reforms that could be beneficial to it. But following the path of a Senate, in Britain’s case, is by far not the way. I routinely watch the House of Lords, Australian Senate and NSW Legislative Council – the prior is generally filled with people who have actual life experience and contribute constructively (aside from a few of the new political life peers), the latter two are filled with exactly the same type of people that occupy the House of Representatives and Legislative Assembly, politically orientated stick figures such as Penny Wong and her cohort (Not intended as a homophobic gesture, I despise of her for many reasons other than that).

    The idea that you would have an elected body that could be chosen by the people to elect senior figures to truly act in a supervisory and overseeing position as advisors with experience to the government is ridiculous. No elected house in the modern age can serve this purpose; the Australian Senate does not even use that as a description anymore since the days when the youngest parliament member is a Senator with the only life experience of working for two weeks as a bank teller and her role in a political party.

    -Also to me, and I do not read a lot of the UK papers anymore so have not followed this in detail, but I see on one page the figures that the Liberal Democrats are going into 2015 looking in a very poor position and Nick Clegg then asking for a body where they would get fifteen year terms. Looks like job security to me.
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    (Original post by hyakushiki1234)
    any unelected individuals have any power is disgusting
    You say this but we have people sat in Brusselswho are unelected, making a number if decisions which coukd either make or break this country. We also have an unelected court, which completely over rules ours! The MEP's which we elect have no power in the European Parliament because they have to ensure that other countries will help pass the bill, this is after all of the parties have agreed on the bill which is, in itself, a huge task!

    Personally, I fell that we need to hold a refferendum on our membership of the EU before we begin to reform the Lords which, as you say, has no real power!




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    I wish someone could point out the faculty (which I obviously lack) by which the immutable truth that is the immoral nature of hereditary power is discovered. Doesn't it seem rather odd that it only started working properly for most people in the early 20th century? I suppose people must have simply been incredibly stupid in the past.
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    Labour's position on this irritates me. They say they want to democratize the house of Lords but they did absolutely nothing in this regard during their 13 years in power.
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    (Original post by King Kebab)
    Labour's position on this irritates me. They say they want to democratize the house of Lords but they did absolutely nothing in this regard during their 13 years in power.
    Yes and no. Are you forgetting the 1999 Act, which removed almost all the hereditary peers?

    Frankly I don't blame them for not getting beyond that. As long as election is assumed to be the only possible reform, the House of Lords will remain as it is, Election is too difficult to implement.
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    (Original post by gladders)
    Yes and no. Are you forgetting the 1999 Act, which removed almost all the hereditary peers?
    .
    Meaning that Thatcher's son won't get the Bt title?
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    (Original post by kka25)
    Meaning that Thatcher's son won't get the Bt title?
    She's a life peer, so no, he won't.
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    Good. They have no mandate to mess around with the constitution like this. If they wanted to reform the Lords both parties should have made it a key plank in their respective manifestos, not sneak it in the small print and then use it to do whatever they hell they like.
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    (Original post by kka25)
    Meaning that Thatcher's son won't get the Bt title?
    As MT states, she's a Life Peer, not a hereditary one, so he won't.

    By the way - "Bt." is the abbreviation for baronet, which is a hereditary knighthood, not a peerage. They can inherit that through their deceased father, but it holds no special privileges.
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    (Original post by gladders)
    As MT states, she's a Life Peer, not a hereditary one, so he won't.

    By the way - "Bt." is the abbreviation for baronet, which is a hereditary knighthood, not a peerage. They can inherit that through their deceased father, but it holds no special privileges.
    Ah, I see. Didn't know that. Thank you

    Is there's a different between a Life peer and a Peerage? :ninja:
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    (Original post by kka25)
    Ah, I see. Didn't know that. Thank you
    Welcome

    Is there's a different between a Life peer and a Peerage? :ninja:
    Nothing - a life peer is a type of peerage. The other kind is a hereditary peer. 92 hereditaries retain the right to attend the House of Lords; the other 700 or so do not have that right any more.

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