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No to Lords reform!

Peers could be forced to leave the House of Lords when they get too old in a bid to ensure the second chamber does not “keep growing indefinitely”, a Cabinet minister has said.


What provides Lords with their independence is that we can’t chuck ’em out. And nor can the government of the day, nor any form of the establishment, do so.

Introducing rules whereby someone must leave, whether for criminal offences, age, infirmity etc, destroys this.

There are all sorts of arguments against the Lords. But opening the door to removal by some committee (who would, for example, make the decision of what is too old, too infirm?) isn’t going to make the place better.

16 thoughts on “No to Lords reform!”

  1. If the criterion is simply a retirement age and applies to all then I don’t think your objection holds. However it could be the thin end of a wedge in which case I would object.

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    Surely, the answer’s to reinstate an ancient custom & law amongst the baronage. Trial by combat as a debating tool. Few contentious issues’d thin the numbers.
    Make good TV, as well.

  3. If the Lords is too big then stop adding to the numbers. A moratorium on creating them and let nature take its course. Easily done too. Decide upon the apparently optimal figure. Legislate to fix it at that and leave it all alone until the numbers have reduced.

    But then, they wouldn’t be able to dish out titles to their chums, supporters and voted-out colleagues.

  4. How about (shocker) using a direct measure of effectiveness. Like how many times they speak in debate (with appropriate controls to minimise gaming)?
    But maybe that’s just too crude for the Brits.

  5. I’m with JeremyT on this, if they don’t turn up to some number of debates per session, they lose the right to sit.

  6. To defend their independence then the criterion for sacking has to be explicit, unambiguous and arbitrary: age fits the bill.

    Height would fit the bill too, but sacking everyone under six foot would he harsh, especially on the women.

    (Apart for one or two Lords born in the sort of country where nobody trusts claims of age – but there surely can’t be many of them?)

    “maybe that’s just too crude for the Brits”: not so much crude as stupid.

  7. Cant be bothered to check, but fairly sure judges have to retire at some stage.

    Saying that, in theory they’re almost impossible to sack and cannot be leaned on but, er…

  8. How many times someone speaks in a debate isn’t a good metric – you will just have lines of them queuing up to drone some bullshit for ten/twenty minutes just to qualify. Arbitrary targets just don’t work.

  9. I saw somewhere that one of our media grandees (Polly?) wanted an “indirectly elected” second chamber. Does anyone know what the hell that is?

  10. Here we have a group of people who have found the secret of something closer to the elixir of life than has anyone else (except possibly some subset of Japanese fishermen).

    And you lot want them all to be sacked for it? What folly – let them keep on with the experiments!

    Best regards

  11. Rob: Originally, U.S. Senators were elected by the State’s legislature. This is one possible form of ‘indirect election’.

  12. So Much For Subtlety

    Rob – “I saw somewhere that one of our media grandees (Polly?) wanted an “indirectly elected” second chamber. Does anyone know what the hell that is?”

    A committee of Polly’s chums elect people like Polly.

    The only solution is the sensible one – kick out the political appointees and bring back the Hereditaries.

  13. One of the problemswith elected bodies is that they will start seeing themselves as having a mandate which means they should have more power, in reality the lords has little power and functions well because of that. Of course it’s also harder to threaten and cajole people with a job for life.
    Of all the odious acts of Blair and co. starting to mess with the Lords was one of their worst

  14. Rob

    Polly means PR with members taken from party lists. So party placemen completely beholden to the party whip. The independence of the second chamber lost forever to Polly’s idea of democracy.

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