Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Where to the House of Lords?

I'm tired tonight so the bulk of the substance here will be in links to the Guardian.

Once upon a time, all members of the British House of Lords were hereditary peers, who were created by the Crown (or the Cabinet using the powers of the Crown. The Lords could block the will of the Commons.

Just before the Great War, the powers of the Lords were curtailed, making the Commons supreme.

Later in the 20th century, the practice of making hereditary peers ceased and most members of the Lords were appointed for life only. Lots of senior politicians got seats this way.

At the very end of the 20th century, Blair's government took votes away from most hereditary peers, which gave the balance of power in the Lords to the appointees.

Since then there's been a feeling, apparently, that the reform of the Lords has to go farther -- especially since there are suspicions that the Labour Party was selling life peerages for campaign cash.

Well, last night there was a non-binding vote in the Commons that indicated that the majority of MPs want a wholly-elected upper chamber.

What remains to be seen is what actually is enacted, and whether the existing peers will try to block the reform. But it looks like an undemocratic lever is being taken away from the Cabinet.

I have to ask -- if the Lords become elected, what excuse will remain for Canada's ridiculous and unelected Senate?

And I love the fact that this happened when Jack Straw was Leader of the Commons, even if he favored a more conservative measure. What did John Ball and Wat Tyler have to say, Jack?

Here's the Guardian on the vote, the Guardian leader (editorial), background on Lords reform, and a chronology of the Lords and its evolution.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ancarett said...

When Adam delved and Eve spanned, who was then the Gentleman? It's interesting, that's for sure!

7:53 AM  

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