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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Will Cameron cull the House of Lords?

The Telegraph reports on proposals emerging from Lord Strathclyde's review of the House of Lords that once more fails to tackle the real problem, but instead seeks to put in place a quick fix to prevent further embarrassment to the Tory Government.

The best way of assessing the validity of these proposals is to consider whether Cameron would have supported them in opposition. I think the answer is almost certainly not.

Lord Strathclyde is apparently going to recommend to the Prime Minister that he should enact a new law stripping the Lords of their ability to veto changes to secondary legislation. He is also proposing a 20 per cent “hair cut” that would force all parties to reduce their number of peers and hold internal elections for the remaining places, as is currently done for hereditary peers.

The paper says that it is understood that Lord Strathclyde will say this radical idea should be considered further rather than being a formal recommendation.

Cameron's problem of course is to convince others that the curtailing of Lords' powers and a 20% cut in the number of peers is not just a gerrymandering exercise. That is because the principles behind it relate entirely (and sensibly) to cost and are motivated by Government defeats, but do not address the fundamental issue of democratising the second chamber.

Ultimately this is Cameron proposing to change the rules to get his own way. That is hardly a moral high ground. What the review does not answer is how Cameron will get these laws of convenience past the House of Lords?
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