Packing the Lords has become plaything for patronage & consolidating power of PM

Cameron’s decision to toss another 45 peers, mostly party hacks, into the Lords is really shameful.    The motivation is to remove any obstacles to the swift and easy transmission of government business.   Since the whole purpose of Parliament is to hold the Executive (the government) to account, it is truly scandalous that the leader of the Executive has untrammeled tights to appoint whatever number of new peerages will defeat this purpose.   This is a serious source of corruption at the very heart of government.   I certainly strengthens the case for an independent Parliamentary Ombudsman who could make a formal statement, as presidents do in other European countries, condemning what he/she believes is a constitutional abuse designed to sidestep the proper working of Parliament, as well as giving MPs and indeed members of the public the opportunity to make a formal protest.

There are several other aspects too to this sordid affair.   Of the 45 new peers, 32 are former politicians and 7 used to work in the party machines, making a total of 85%.   Moreover, of the 189 peers created between the two elections of 2010 and 2015, no less than 68 had been elected politicians and 26 had been political staff – that is fully half of the new intake.   The Lords is increasingly becoming a repository for Westminster bubble insiders, including those most recently rejected by electors at the polls just 3 months ago.

It’s also becoming a repository for donors to the Tory party.   Of course it has been accepted ever since the time of Lloyd George, the arch peerage salesman, that the selling of honours was illegal.   But is there much difference between an outright sale and making a large contribution to Tory party funds and then waiting for the Tory party hierarchy to reward such generosity?   It doesn’t always happen of course, but an academic stidy has shown that giving large sums of money does have a remarkably positive effect on the donor’s talents being recognised.

Then there the numbers.   There are now 828 members of the Lords and if MPs are added there is grand total of Westminster legislators of 1,476.   Cameron said before the election that he would cut both the number and cost of parliamentarians.   What he has done in practice is the exact opposite – he has appointed new peers at a faster rate than any PM since life peerages began in 1958, even more than Blair.

Packing the Lords with cronies is a shameless way for the PM to extend his patronage and secure compliance as well as smoothing the way for an uninterrupted legislative programme.   Having lost votes in the Lords over devolution, the EU referendum and EVEL (English votes for English laws), Cameron is determined to stop that happening again.   That he has the idiosyncratic power to do so only exposes how drastic is the need for radical Lords reform.

3 thoughts on “Packing the Lords has become plaything for patronage & consolidating power of PM

  1. You know, when it was first muted that the HOL would be reformed and the lifers and inheritors would loose their seats I was all for it, “boody out of touch peers” and “how can they pass judgement when they are isolated from the issues of life so many of us have to face”, and so on.

    Now however I long for the days when the “out of touch” spent time, effort, and detached indifference to ponder not only the legal nuances of policies but also their impacts in a non-partisan and clinical way. Often sending back seemingly “good policies”, or policies that had popular support, that with a clinical eye had far more reaching ramifications than a brief glance would suggest.

    Now we have the likes of lord (I refuse to capitalise it) fraud (sic), who swaps benches more times than homeless person being moved by the council, just so he can promote his ideology with no thought as to its implications and who came out with the line “working a few hours will set you free, of the bedroom tax”. (It seems the whole work will set you free is quite a thing for people on the right!)

    Even when his policies (he’s a lord, he should be scrutinising, not making policy) are proven not to work, when its shown they cost more, he continues being an establishment lacky.

    Bring back the lifers, bring back the heredities, bring back the impartiality. Bring back the ability to scrutinise and send back bad policy… get rid of the party politics now infecting the lords.

  2. Hum with so many dieing so many being abused by this lot we haven’t a care about the lords or whotever they call themselves we get abuse money cut told we fit for work when infact we are dying yes it isnt in me or they to ask whose who in this house sort out this cull has talking about it kills more daily the only lord I want to hear is he above us not those other chalitans jeff3

  3. It is more like an old boys club Michael and needs thinning out to a level of know more than 500 and retirement at 75

    It is very expensive to run and with many in attendance nodding off at £300 per day a smack in the teeth for hard working poor people who have to live and work nearby

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