Elected peers would be unaccountable

He\’s right you know:

Lord Strathclyde, the leader of the Lords, has said peers elected to the upper house under the government\’s reform plans would not be accountable to voters.

The Conservative peer also said that if his party was in power with a majority, it would not be going ahead with the plans to democratise the Lords.

Strathclyde spoke in favour of the plans in an interview for the BBC\’s Sunday Politics show, but undermined one of the main arguments used by supporters of reform, namely that having elections would make the chamber accountable to voters.

Asked how having peers elected for 15-year non-renewable terms would make them accountable, Strathclyde said he was being careful not to claim the plans would do so. \”Because you\’re right – they\’re not accountable,\” he said.

Accountability to the electorate comes as a result of the electorate being able to get rid of you when you stand again.

If you\’re not allowed to stand again, which the new Senators will not be allowed to, then you\’re simply not going to be accountable to the electorate.

Democracy, in the end, is about being able to throw the bastards out. Something that just cannot happen in a system which insists upon a single term.

9 thoughts on “Elected peers would be unaccountable”

  1. Democracy and electing doesn’t really have a lot going for it. Look at the current shower we have in government. Not much better than the previous shower. And I doubt any future lot will be any better. And we want to have more elected people? Just look at how elected police commissioners is being subverted for political ends and not for the benefit of police or the public

  2. I’m not so sure about the conclusion.

    Of course, the 15 year non-renewable term reduces the responsiveness to the electorate, which is, of course, part of the point, in order to create a chamber which is less likely to blow around in the winds of public opinion.

    However, describing it as unaccountable is, I think, going to far. You could apply the same argument to an MP who has decided not to stand at the next election. Anybody standing under a party banner would not be able to stand, but their party would, which would drive a level of accountability through the party.

  3. Offshore Observer

    The House of Lords is an amazing thing that in many respects bring a great deal to the governance of the United Kingdom. If you look at those jurisdictions which have elected upper houses (Australia, the USA for example) thier elected upper house simply are simply more politicians. The Australian example is probably better than the US as it is a notionally westminster system of government with Ministers drawn from the Parliament.

    Of course politicians may or may not have any experience in the real world. You end up with someone who has been a union hack for 20 years worked thier way up though the party structure as minister for business. The same for the conservatives.

    The beauty of the House of Lords is if the government needs an expert, you know someone who has worked in the real world and not just in party politics, you can simply give them a peerage and appoint them as a Minister. You end up with real experts in Cabinet.

    the congressional system of the US works just as well because the President can appoint whomever he wants as secretary of state etc.

    Going to a wholly elected house of lords is a retrograde step.

    I do agree with SBML that democracy leaves quite a bit to be desired as after all the big brother watching, Daily Mail reading moron has just as much say as everyone else. Once you have met “the people” you often wonder why they should be in charge. But unfortunately as Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others we have tried”.

  4. I quite agree with the basic point of the lack of accountability in the proposed system. But that lack of accountability is not a benefit of the existing system.

    Those who make law must be able to be turfed out if they’re crap, even if they can only at root ‘delay’ law.

    There’s a fair bit of rose tinted spectacles with the existing system – the Lords is full of washed up politicians, religious nuts and a few professionals with nothing better to do.

    The main benefit of the Lords was its ability to veto the Commons. The ability of an unelected Lords to do that was untenable. If the House is properly elected that should be the system that is reverted to. We need an equal House that can stop a government that owns the Commons from doing whatever the fuck it wants. Competition is the legislature as in everything else.

  5. @Paul – perhaps elected upper house members will be accountable under some unspecified definition, but then, why not say the current lot are accountable. Tim’s point is that it’s not true to say that because they are ‘elected’, they are now accountable.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    ukliberty – “They’re only accountable if we can sack them.”

    Not to nit-pick or anything, but they are also accountable if we can hang them.

  7. tory boys never grow up

    I agree – so what alternative is offered by Lord Strathclyde (accountable to a dead Daddy) the status quo?

  8. Seems to me this is a retread of a system we have already. The Great & the Good whose members become recognised as such, spend about the next 15 years running whatever they get their paws on into the ground & fade out when they start dribbling into their shirtfronts. OK, we might be electing them, but it’ll still be the same people won’t it? They all start out as potential saviours. It’s only much later we find they’re as incompetent as usual. Having a statutory retirement age for the Lords’d make as good a sense.

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