Reforms in the House of Lords
Reformsin the House of Lords
Reformsin the House of the Lords
“Reformingthe House of Lords” would not create more difficulties than itwould resolve as the statement suggests. The current condition of theHouse of Lords is that they are not elected but appointed based ontheir political patronage, and the duration of membership is notlimited or is for life even if a Lord is found guilty of an illegaloffence. The aim of this argumentative essay is to explain in depththe reasons behind supporting reforms in the “House of the Lords”.
Firstly,the reform proposed that when the House of Lords hereditary peers diethey should not be replaced would not create problems. When electionsare being held to replace a deceased Lord the only people who areallowed to vote are the hereditary peers (Ryan, 2013). This systemproves that a person can claim a legislature seat in United Kingdombecause he or she believes that it is her or his birth right.However, the removal of hereditary peers would not solve the issuepopulation in the House of Lords because it would only shift thepolitical weighing scale.
Secondly,measures to remove all persistent non-attendees would not createcracks in the system, but it would help create effectiveness.Implementation of this proposal would be an effective step becausecurrently there are no assumptions or even requirements explainingthe number of sittings a peerage is supposed to attend (Blom-Cooperet al, 2009). The notion has encouraged some members to only attendwhen subjects that are directly related to them are being discussed.While, others are committed to careers they love most, and theycannot afford to give them up (Kelso, 2015). Removal of theuncommitted Lords will change the House of Lords membership frombeing appointed for life. However, this change will only reduce thenumber of members in the House of Lord and not make any difference onthe increasing number of peers that is the major issue.
Onthe other hand, a moratorium or suspension on new House of Lordspeers would not create problems as the statement suggests. If thisproposal is implemented it would mean that the government shouldabandon the aim it had declared when appointing new peers so as toreflect on the vote shared political parties received in the generalelection of 2010 (Kelso, 2015). A moratorium will be very importantbecause it will put a stop to parties replacing died peers, as wellas preventing the government from selecting individuals who are notthe House of Lords members. However, there should be a deliberateplan of suspending peers, instead of just an attempt to reduce theincreasing size of House of Lord.
Implementationof fixed term selections for new peers to the house would lead to afundamental change in the nature of House of Lords membership andwould require a legislative change. Additionally, this proposal wouldincrease the House of Lords hybridity because another category ofpeers would be formed. A major advantage of the introduction of afixed time is that: an appointed peer for a fixed period is morelikely to be a loyal leader than a peer who had been elected forlife. Moreover, a mixture of appointed and elected House of Lordsmembers would lead to formation of the best systems, which wouldaddress the democratic shortfalls while, retaining the experiencesand expertise of individuals in different fields (Kelso, 2015). However, there is a high possibility for the peer to encounter allthe observed and identified disadvantages of an elected member, andstill without any advantages of democratic legitimacy. Additionally,two groups will be created that is, the elected and non-electedmembers, and this will lead to friction.
Alternatively,a retirement age for the House of Lords is also a key point in theproposal. Before 2011, the only retirement option that was availableto peers was to acquire “a leave of absence”. This strategy wasunsatisfactory because some members would return after some yearslike Lord Philips, who announced his retirement in 2006 and thenreturned in 2009. This uncertainty made the process of solving theincreasing size problem to be very difficult. In 2001, a voluntaryretirement scheme was introduced but so far, only two peers havepracticed it, clearly this scheme is not effective and thus it is nota better way of managing the increasing size of peers (Kelso, 2015Ryan, 2013). Based on the current evidences, only compulsory schemecan handle the issue of size in House of Lords. However, this is notlikely to be practical because the House of Commons have no agelimit, and thus it would be very inappropriate to launch one in theHouse of Lords.
Additionally,the proposal of expelling peers convicted of serious offencesbecause, House of Lords’ members can be found guilty of seriouscrimes and continue being legislature members, and this has greatlydamaged the status of the Lords’ house. It also reinforces the ideathat politicians belong to a superior class that is not treated likethe other citizens. However, this proposal is not likely to beimplemented because the peers are not answerable to the public likethe MPs who are forced to resign once convicted (Blom-Cooper, et al,2009). Despite the fact that majority of the population believe whatHouse of Commons encounters should also be the case with House ofLords members. Lack of accountability is very contradicting becausethey usually contribute when laws are being made. Additionally, lackof responsibility enables the appointed legislature members to retaintheir seats.
Toadd on to that, the proposal of composing a statutory or legalappointments commission is very essential because it ensures thatpolitical patronage is not implemented when appointing legislaturemembers (Blom-Cooper et al, 2009). However, the creation of a legalappointment commission would create a permanent system that willenable all membership of the House of Lords to be fully preserved.The notion would be in opposition to the interest of House of Commonin 2007 and 2011 votes.
Lastly,the proposal of establishing the number of different party members inHouse of Lords as well as codifying such principles will greatlyreduce the number of peers. However, lack of term limits will make itimpossible to control the size of the House (Ryan, 2013).Additionally, even in the presence of term limits agreement, it isstill not clear how different party groups would determine theirrelative sizes.
Inconclusion, in a democratic government everybody who contributeduring the process of law making should be selected by the citizensas well as be in a position of being voted out by the electors.However, it is clear that the present House of Lords do not havelegitimacy because members are appointed instead of being selected.Additionally, since the appointments are for life, the Lords lack asystem that can hold them answerable to the public. The facts thatmembers of the Lords can regain their seats after committing a crimeis very undemocratic, and also use the public resources. However,lack of unreliable system will continue to make the introduction ofelected members in the House of Lords very impossible.
Blom-Cooper,L. Dickson, B. and Drewry, G. (2009) TheJudicial House of Lords 1876-2009.Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Kelso,A. (2015) “The House of Lords”, Parliaments,Estates and Representation,(ahead-of-print), 1-2.
Ryan,M. (2013) “Latest Attempt at Reform of the House of Lords-One StepForward and Another One Back”, The. NottinghamLJ, 22,1.