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Saturday, May 14, 2005

27 Lords a leaping

Stage three of the Blair project it seems is to compensate for a woeful lack of popular support in the Country by shoring up the Labour vote in the House of Lords.

The anachronism of a largely hereditary chamber stuffed full of Tory backwoodsmen has now been replaced with a mostly appointed House graced by many of Tony's cronies, Michael's minions and Charlie's chums. All of them are of course politicians and public figures of the highest quality and integrity, but without exception they lack the one qualification that should be required for the job they do. They have no popular mandate.

The unspoken rule that the present balance in the House of Lords will be maintained has been broken by the actions of the Prime Minister in creating 16 new Labour Peers, thus giving his party the status of largest grouping for the first time in the House of Lords' 800 year history. He still does not have a majority of course, but I am sure that is where he is heading. Certainly, the revising role of the House will not pose such an obstacle for the Prime Minister on contentious Bills as it has done in the past. That is just what Blair needs now that his Commons majority has been slashed to a third of what it was previously.

The so-called modernisation of the House of Lords has stalled to be overtaken by a shabby half-way-house compromise that leaves a vital part of our law-making process at the mercy of Prime Ministerial patronage. A fully elected second chamber must be a high priority for all those concerned about the future of democracy in this Country.
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