The country faces serious economic and social problems.  The problems are often complex and the solutions not always clear or easy to implement.  I do despair at times when politicians, rather than admit to the fact that the problems don’t necessarily admit of clear solutions, fall back on advocating structural change.  It is usually a substitute for serious thought and reflection. 

Advocating electoral reform is a sign often of desperation.  So too is advocating an elected second chamber.  You can recognise the symptoms not only of desperation but also of lazy thinking.   The argument often rests on the assumption that the case for change is self-evident.  It isn’t.   Trotting out the need for a ‘fair’ electoral system or the ‘democratic option’ for the second chamber shows a lack of understanding of the issues.  Alternative electoral systems are not self-evidently fairer than the present one and an elected second chamber does not necessarily render a system of representative democracy – with accountability at its heart – more democratic. 

Evidence of desperation was apparent in the debate among the party leaders broadcast last night.   When asked about the expenses’ scandal, the responses deviated on to electoral reform and election of the second chamber.  Though the House of Lords has had problems with some members in respect of their expense claims (and most peers are as furious about it as members of the public), the principal problem has been at the other end of the Palace of Westminster.  It is not clear how electing the same politicians by another means, or having a second body of elected politicians, will solve the problem raised by the questioner.  The problem isn’t a structural one, it is an attitudinal one.  Politicians should not blame the system, or at least the way the system is structured.  The problem is not external.  Until they accept that, they have a problem. 

The arguments for the present House of Lords are powerful in their own right and equally powerful when contrasted with the alternatives on offer.  An elected second chamber has little to offer.  Even the government’s proposals for an elected second chamber do not provide for any accountability (no re-election) and concede implicitly that the people who would seek election would rather be in the Commons (those who have served in the second chamber being prohibited from standing for the Commons for a period of years).   Nor would an elected House be cheaper to run, as Gordon Brown claimed last night.  The present House is cost-effective and relatively inexpensive, given that peers are not salaried and there are no staff allowances for each member running usually into six-figures.  Even if the size of the House is halved, members would presumably need to be paid and have staff support.  There is no obvious saving.  More importantly, there is no value added to the political process.  The present House does add value.   It is worth fighting for.


About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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37 Responses to Desperation

  1. Carl.H says:

    I am extremely concerned on this issue, the whole concept of the HoL is to have to have a reasonably non policitically motivated group of educated people to scrutinise legislation.

    Our system of politics has long been the envy of the world and now because of the furore caused by MP`s expenes, in the main, politicians propose a change not to themselves who were at fault but to an entirely different part of the system.

    There are changes that are needed in the HoL, they themselves recognise this and are in that process. I worry that they may not possess the needed powers to save not themselves but a system that was put in place by educated people far superior to the likes we have in the commons.

    £86.50 a day will not get me a brick layer, I`d be lucky if I got a labourer. To hear what Lord Norton and Baroness Deech do for that type of return and for the love of country is heart warming. The fact of the matter is that most of the country do not know or understand the facts.

    The mercenary elements in the other place seek to impose changes because of media and public outcry but instead of changing what IS wrong at their end, which is what caused the furore, they seek to change everything that does not directly affect them in terms of personal issues. The changes they seek suit no one except themselves, it is yet another scandalous issue and I despair.

    If salesmen were caught fiddling expenses and blamed the accounts department stating it needed changing it would be ludicrous.

    I want/need the best educated, wise people scrutinising legislation, unpolitically as is possible and I do not feel I will get that with an electoral system. Even if we had a system where people were put forward it would be on a political bias or jobs for the boys and THIS is one issue that the parties state they seek to redress, what nonesense.

    I can only hope that the HoL has the fight in them, my fear is that this so called modernisation will only lead to a system that is bias toward politics and industry and that common sense and education are exchanged for the thought, and it will be just that, that people have a say.

    The systems being sought could result in absolute power in the commons and that thought frightens me. Even with Government the people need, deserve a right of appeal, without a free non-political (where possible) HoL this right does not exist.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Carl H: Many thanks. I find it difficult to disagree with anything you write. I certainly think we are up for the battle.

      On expenses, I should mention that those peers who live outside London are also entitled to claim up to £174 for overnight stays on days the House is sitting. I do claim for (usually) the two nights I stay each week in order to maintain my flat. On the daily subsistence allowance of £86.50 a day, I have never claimed anything approaching that figure. I claim for what I spend during the day, which usually isn’t very much.

  2. FinnishCowl says:

    I thought it was particularly telling last night when Brown latched on to the idea of electoral reform and changing the House of Lords. In particular, I noted his insistence that he was some sort of a champion for democracy in this regard and that Nick Clegg agreed on these proposals. Then Clegg rather soundly shut him down and noted that these policies had virtually always been supported by the lib-dems and now only recently by Labour. And I think your point about desperation highlights this. Seizing on to topics like this all of the sudden and acting like you have always thought it was important seems pretty frantic and only underlines the sort of short-sighted use of this issue which has rather long-term consequences.

  3. franksummers3ba says:

    Would Your Lordship ever consider the following as a somewhat direct move of global political grand standing such as the avowed republicans and democrats always advocate for their side?
    I think a group of Peers representing the Created, Spiritual and Hereditary (and perhaps a former Law Lord) could put in an application to the World Heritage authorities in the United Nations for preserving “Aristocratic Parliamentarianism in the House of Lords” as a cultural pattern. A complete win would be impossible — the British must preserve it by yourselves. However, a declaration that it was an irreplaceable treasure of humankind might be of interest to some. Of course, they have avoided political declarations. Yet it might be a gallant thing to do for others less well resourced who would be encouraged.

  4. Troika21 says:

    The political solution is always more politics.

    I was a bit dismayed in the debate last night when all of the [contestants] party leaders started sounding off about the Lords. Nothing but distraction from the Commons own failings.

    I find myself in agreement with Carl.H:

    “I want/need the best educated, wise people scrutinising legislation, unpolitically as is possible”

    Although, I’m not sure if the present system does this all that well, and I think that there are some refroms that could be undertaken, an elected upper house is not something I want.

  5. franksummers3ba says:

    I think the contrast David Cameron pointed out between the Ministry with its massage room and contemplation suite and Lord Norton’s glimpses of ten peers to an office is illustative. Lord Norton and his colleagues are bound to be cheaper because they can contemplate in the already built Abbey, Cathedral and parks and justify satisfy their ego needs withexisting social structures. The modern age tends to wish tocreate a whole new structure of perqs every couple of generations and that is very costly. I think setting aside some portion of newly created peers for review in the areas where they seek thier titles, or in some institution or family with which they are associated would be useful (prior to granting the Peerages). A truly democratic House of Lords would be truly silly I think. As for austerities, I think they could be apropriate if Britsh culture changes. In other words less for Peers if Britain’s billionaires and bureaucrats live on a lower scale could be right but otherwise it could not be right…

  6. Chris K says:

    Not surprising that the leaders of the two main parties, and Nick Clegg, all agreed on Lords reform. Disappointing, but not surprising.

    It strikes me that politicians are reluctant to adopt policies which require too much explaining to justify. Certainly it is much easier to say “we need a ‘democratic’ second chamber” than it is to explain why we actually really, really do not.

  7. Senex says:

    LN: “and an elected second chamber does not necessarily render a system of representative democracy – with accountability at its heart – more democratic.”

    I agree, but what would you suggest should happen if less than 50% of the electorate turnout to vote. Democracy in the Balkans of late has suffered badly from voter apathy. Take Montenegro for example; its constitution prescribes that any turnout must be equal to or greater than 50% in order to elect a President. During 2003 voter apathy kept turnout below 50% and an appointed President had to take the reigns of power.

    An elected upper house with a turnout based power switch set at 49% would allow the HoL to embrace power and legitimately block Commons legislation if popular democracy turnout fell below 50%. As you are quite happy to be an appointed peer one assumes that you are equally happy with our appointed Prime Minister, so why have a General Election at all?

  8. Lord Norton says:

    Senex: You last question is answered by the quote you offer in opening. In a representative democracy, there must be an elected chamber. In a parliamentary democracy, it is through elections to that chamber that the government is chosen. It is chosen through elections to that chamber, in between elections it is answerable to that chamber, and it is answerable to electors at the next election of that chamber. There is thus one body – the party in government – that is responsible for public policy. As such we have core accountability. There is no diluting or dividing of power. Electors know precisely who to blame (or reward). Election to the first chamber is thus necessary. To maintain core accountability, it is also sufficient. The moment you start to elect two chambers, you start to divide accountability. The value of our present system is that we maintain core accountability while also enjoying the added value of a complementary (not competing) second chamber.

    Though Prime Ministers have tended to act as if they were directly elected by the people (the presidentialisation thesis), we still have a parliamentary system, where the government is the body responsible for public policy and answerable to the people for that policy.

    On turnout, we need to avoid a decrease by re-engaging people in politics. Given what I have written in my post, I am not going to suggest there is a simple answer. I do believe, though, that leadership is important, not just by party leaders but also by other politicians. It is important to demonstrate that they are movitated by the public interest and not by self interest. We also need to address how we sustain political parties and make them salient to electors. This is not a problem peculiar to the UK.

  9. Senex says:

    LN: “On turnout, we need to avoid a decrease by re-engaging people in politics. ” Yes, but you have avoided answering the question about the legitimacy of a Prime Minster if the turnout actually fell below 50%. Why are you unable to answer this? “This is not a problem peculiar to the UK.” Yet! And again what do we do about it if it happens?

    “The moment you start to elect two chambers, you start to divide accountability. ” Not so! It would only happen if turnout fell below 50%. As the electoral method of the HoL would not be based upon popular democracy it would not compete with the Commons even if an illegitimate Prime Minister were elected. However, any actions by such a government would have to pass muster in the HoL before they became law.

    Your abiding faith in democracy is commendable but we both know that there has never been an enduring one down the centuries except for our Parliament. Would you deny us our history with its electoral suffrage in both houses? It seems so.

  10. maldencapell says:

    Lord Norton,

    This turn of events is depressing to me. What can we do to stop it?

    • Lord Norton says:

      maldencapell: The challenge is to ensure that the case for the present chamber is made loudly and persistently, not only to politicians but also to the media and the public. As the research by the Constitution Unit at University College London shows, the public do have some appreciation of the work of the House and give fulfilling some of its functions priority over any desire for an elected chamber. The problem lies notably with some politicians and with parts of the media: some newspapers display a level of ignorance that is remarkable.

  11. Lord Norton says:

    Senex: Turnout would not be relevant to the legitimacy of the Prime Minister as such but rather to Parliament and government as a whole. My point about divided accountability stands as it relates to election. If election is not based on some form of popular democracy, it is not clear how you are defining election. It is not clear that giving power to the second chamber in the event of a decline in turnout, whatever the level, will address the problem: it is not clear how it will induce a higher turnout. If people don’t vote, I doubt if the threat of the second chamber having greater power will have any great effect on them.

  12. Carl.H says:

    “As the electoral method of the HoL would not be based upon popular democracy it would not compete with the Commons”

    On what would you base it ? How would you stop Politics from entering into the method for choosing candidates ? Would such elections require funding ? If so by whom ? Would politicians be eligible ?

    If the electorate are bored/apathetic/angry at politics and elections why would they turn out for Lords elections when most do not understand the process or reason for it?

    Elections are fundementally for those who choose what will be law, the HoL is to scrutinise those bills hoping to be law.

    With Cameron, Brown and Clegg I DO NOT know everything that may come forward within any of their given terms, I can get perhaps a dozen manifesto items and choose from those but it doesn`t tell all. After 5 years I maybe disatisfied and vote for someone else.

    How and why should I choose one academic from another ? Will they be put forward along party lines ? Will they have the backing of someone already in power ? Who will set the make-up of the House between Business people, Lawyers, Health advisers, Sports persons, Religious people and ethnic minorities ?

    Why and how would the end result be any different to what we have, except more expensive ?

  13. Senex says:

    LN: “If election is not based on some form of popular democracy, it is not clear how you are defining election.” When you vote for the board of any Professional Institution that you may belong to democracy is confined to its membership but not to the general public. In an elected house would you be comfortable with a Billingsgate fish wife voting you into office? It would not be relevant to the need. But then again you are based in Hull!

    Maldencapell: Sorry, such thoughts ARE depressing but where do we talk about such matters except on a political blog?

  14. Senex says:

    Carl H: “I am extremely concerned on this issue, the whole concept of the HoL is to have to have a reasonably non policitically [sic] motivated group of educated people to scrutinise legislation.”

    Sorry, the house is filled in part with the most hard-boiled, I get knocked down, I get right back up again individuals to be found anywhere in Parliament. So take the rose tinted glasses off and see them for what they really are, bruisers. Now this contrasts starkly with LN who is a kind considerate man with an indefatigable faith in the goodness of people at least until he knows differently.

    • Carl.H says:

      So please explain how elections will stop the Mandelson`s etc., from being in the House ?

      I`m not knocking you, I`m asking how electing to the HoL will be better, how will it be done who will oversee it, who will fund it. Because all I can percieve is another version of the commons.

    • Lord Norton says:

      Senex: I would not recognise your description. I regard myself as not untypical in the House.

      Your knowledge of Hull, I fear, is also on a par with that of that of the Lords. Hull ceased to be a fishing port some years ago. You may be confusing it with Grimsby, which is generally regarded in Hull as a capital offence.

      And I should add that I have nothing against a Billingsgate fishwife. If she is a part of any defined electorate, her vote is as good as anyone else’s.

    • Carl.H says:

      Senex I`d like to hear your idea of Lords election and how it would work, who votes etc.

      I`m getting the gist that it wouldn`t be an election as in MP`s but can you perhaps elaborate a little.

      Are you saying it should be a panel election ?

  15. maldencapell says:

    Elected second chambers in parliamentary second chambers are worse than useless. Look at Italy.

  16. James Walker says:

    Hmm…, Lord Norton, I agree the current house of lords is fairly good at scrutinising legisation, but I’m worried this is more down to luck, or the alternating between Lib and Con since 1963 allowing fairly equal balance.

    What is there to stop a party from nominating hundreds of peers when elected to push through poor reforms? Or the same thing slowly happening over a generation?

    That is why I’m wondering if instead of being nominated by the PM, allowing cronyism, the peers should be nominated by select commitees, who have to produce a report on their decision. The science commitee could appoint science peers etc. Also seperation from the honours system and a rename.

    • Lord Norton says:

      James Walker: You are right in that potentially a Prime Minister could create a while new raft of peers, though under the rules for introducing new members it could be some time before they were all able to take their seats. There is also now the House of Lords Appointments Commission that nominates cross-bench peers as well as vetting for propriety the nominations made by the parties. The best way to prevent the possibility you mention, though, is by statute. I was responsible for drafting the House of Lords Bill, introduced by Lord Steel, and we sought in that to introduce a limit, essentially ensuring that the governing party could not have more a majority over the second largest party that represented more than three per cent of the membership of the House. The Bill did not get through – it was not expected to – but designed to encourage the Government to introduce its own Bill to give effect to the provisions of the Steel Bill. We continue to press on the issue.

  17. ladytizzy says:

    The polls after the first Leader’s debate gave Nick Clegg the spoils but why? If the pollsters are correct very few could have put his name to his face just one day earlier, let alone his party’s policies. Is any one of the main parties seriously considering an elected second House while the public demonstrate such contempt for the process?

    The attention span of the general public would mean they haven’t got to this second paragraph, enabling me to suggest the simpler and cheaper re-branding option, from the HoL to The Peoples House. How desperate do you want?

    • Carl.H says:

      From the people I`ve spoken with Clegg won the debate but the votes still went to the blue corner !

      9 Million viewers watched this first event, X-Factor gets 15-18 million regularly, Coronation Street and Eastenders regularly get over 10 million. With Eastenders getting over 16 million for it`s live episode.

      • ladytizzy says:

        That’s the thing, Carl, exactly which bit of the debate did Nick win? Apparently, Dave was once (two days ago) the new face of change but welcomed Nick with open arms because, well, because he could talk to a camera? My dog can do that.

      • Carl.H says:

        There actually was nothing new in the debate, questions were not directly answered and dear ole Nick “Let`s be honest” Clegg came out the better for just repeating that without actually being so.

        Honesty is the fact that with an ageing population we need to make serious decisions that will hurt. That at 70M population we`re struggling to make ends meet. That us, the people are actually quite selfish and what we`d vote for isn`t what needs to happen.

        Don`t worry though cos Dave`s dog will only end up biting him.

      • Carl.H says:

        A note to Dave ! Do not go gunning for Nick as the media would have us believe….It is at trait of the British to support the underdog should he appear to be being picked on.

        Be gracious, accept what is good about the Lib dems but state your own clear policies. It is not your job to judge others policies, it is the public`s at this time.

  18. Len says:

    I too find the idea of an elected second chamber frightening. Whilst I find myself an advocate for some reform (stronger Appointments Commission as a prime example), elections are a step too far. As you say, accountability is too valuable a thing to lose; look at the United States.

    Might I ask whether there are a band of your Lordships planning for the eventuality of having a direct government threat to your existence, with a PR campaign in the wings perhaps?

    • Lord Norton says:

      Len: Indeed there is. The Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber draws members from both Houses and from many parties as well as the cross-benches. We support reform (of the sort you mention) but are against election. We want to strengthen the existing House in doing its job and not to destroy it. We are an active group, meeting regularly, arguing the case for reform within the House but putting vigorously the case for the retention of an appointed second chamber.

  19. Charles B says:

    Lord Norton, I think the best way to select Lords should be through a hybrid system. The HoL’s greatest asset is its diversity, and replacing direct appointment with simple direct elections is likely to make the Lords less diverse and no more accountable.

    I would propose:
    1) Kicking out the Hereditary peers and the Lords Spiritual. While undoubtedly some of these members do make excellent and valid contributions, their legitimacy is dubious in my opinion.
    2) Lords would be chosen by the following methods, and would serve for life (or until they wish to retire):
    A – 25% chosen by Prime Minister/Leader of the Opposition, 3rd party leader etc. All appointments properly vetted.
    B – 25% elected by the Select Committees of the House of Commons
    C – 25% elected by the local county Councils or unitary authorities. Obviously there would have to be some sort an allocation system.
    D – 25% directly elected on a regional constituency basis via some sort of “alternative” basis. I would like to see a Condorcet election, although this may be impractical.
    3) Put a roof on the number of Lords, say 500. If a Lord chosen by method A retires (or dies!!) then they can be replaced only by another via method A also, on so on for methods B, C, D.

    I think the reforms I propose (however far fetched they are) would improve the legitimacy of the HoL and improve the diversity and quality of Lords.

    I think the HoL does a great job, although obviously there are votes where I think it was behind the times (because I disagreed with how the HoL voted!).

  20. Senex says:

    CH: Please find thoughts on an elected HoL in the link below:

    Lord Norton seems to have a philosophical dilemma in wanting to stay with an unelected house. If he were to be introspective about his appointment one might imagine some of his thoughts.

    He could argue to himself that he is the best man for the job and his appointment is entirely justifiable over his lifetime. A detractor could argue that he was the apple of somebody’s political eye and the appointment was entirely an act of favouritism or cronyism.

    This same detractor might also put the case that whilst his appointment was a matter of good judgement at the time, the progress of time might produce a contemporary that would serve the house better.

    On the other hand a supporter of the appointment might argue that a fresher would not enjoy the contacts and respect afforded to him by members of both houses over his term nor would they have the personal attributes that have given a uniqueness and vitality to the role. This would be difficult to deny but the detractor might counter by saying that elected incumbents are invariably restored to office for these very same qualities so why not be elected anyway?

    The big question would be is he a sinner or saint? More likely he is neither but just somebody with a strong moral compass unlikely to fail the good standing of the house. A detractor might agree with this in principle but argue that another might not be so fortunate. Such a failing would invariably be used against an incumbent come re-election time.

    So what should the elected term be? For academics, 15 years seems to spring to mind on the basis that they come to the house aged around 50 which affords them the option of continuing at retirement age. For political peers like Lord Mandelson, et al, their elections would occur soon after a general election. The important thing about any of this is that it can be phased in over time.

  21. Carl.H says:

    I`ve reread through your thoughts on LotB and it still looks very much like a political process, with constituencies and Lords payed for by Local parties or companies. This strikes me as very open to corruption and bias either politically or from industry.

    Certainly I feel the House does need reform as I have stated before but some of those reforms are being spoken about in the House already. I`m loath to restructure something entirely that has worked for centuries and appears to me was structured specifically for the task. Unfortunately the House has undergone changes already by way of commons and I`m not certain I agree they are for the best. There is too much guidance and control by the commons by way of the Usual Channels and I feel an independent third party may serve better.

    I will agree that numbers need restricting but we have to remember not everyone is expert in every field. If we have a purely professional upper chamber/second house there is no doubt it will soon fill with political appointees rather than the diverse presence it has at the moment.

    I do not feel that 5 years as an MP in any way gives one the experience necessary to partake of the upper chamber.

    Any elected second chamber would I feel cost the public a great deal more and would result in more political input rather than educated wisdom. As someone who has spoken many times with politicians my experience has always been that whatever I have to say or evidence I have the party view is always correct.

    I am not against electing a second chamber but I would not want a second commons. The problem is elections promote politics of all types and I am against politicians making up most of the House, infact I`d go as far as to say get rid of all the political appointees unless they are prepared to be free of party.

    So how can we elect. Certainly the voters can`t on a free basis with anyone putting themselves forward this would result in the professional politician (read wideboy) grabbing all seats, it`s easy to talk the talk.

    Whatever way I look at it be it elections or appontment by the Commons I find the process could be rigged or warped. I am not entirely happy with the House as it is but basing what we have against the costs and possible bias of elections am prepared to see what reforms the Lords themselves come up with before forcing the issue.

    Now as you state Lord Norton may NOT be the average member I have no way of guaging that but after doing some sums based on information he has supplied I could get three of him just for an MP`s salary and that is without the MP`s expenses. There is also the fact he isn`t actually paid but just gets an allowance to cover his own costs. I suggest that any elected body would quickly want remuneration possibly at least on par with an MP.

    The Second house acts as would a jury, in scrutinising all the evidence of what a Government states needs changing. I would be unhappy at any sort of knobbling of that jury effect, some of which has happened due to political appointees. Certain types of individual seem to gravitate toward elections, I have seen a lot of elections. There have been few that have taken part in elections that I would think of as moral, ethical and honourable but that is my personal opinion. If you think of all the politicians that in your opinion have had the courage of their convictions, be they right or wrong, they number few. I am deeply concerned of turning the Upper House into a sheep pen by means of election. That isn`t to say I am completely happy with the way it has allowed itself to become at present.

    MP`s have limited experience regards life and quite often the party limits them further. Governments have to maintain power therefore limit the say of their own party members who maybe at odds with possible legislation. It is therefore necessary for another party to scrutinise with a reasonable independence, part of the reason I am against the Parties running the HoL. Although my MP may listen to me with regards any evidence against his parties Bill, it is not in the parties interest for him to vote against it. I therefore require/need a independent authority I can appeal to. Now if that authority is elected which will cost money and will be made even more expensive, is politically motivated the HoL will only be an extension of the commons.

    Now if the HoL carries on as is, in that it is becoming more ruled by party politics I shall do more than call for an elected body because it will no longer serve it`s just purpose.

    I do not believe the diversity of experience, knowledge and wisdom could come from any election. That said if the House continues to be filled with politicians and becomes the lapdog of Party Politics it will become an unnecessary cost.

    The fate of the House is in the members hands, it has to justify itself. Do not believe the House is not accountable to the electorate.

  22. JH says:

    A less radical change to some of those mentioned above is suggested in an article in the Web Journal of Current Legal Issues. This evolutionary change would retain almost all of the benefits of an appointed House while enhancing the perceived ‘democratic’ legitimacy of the House. It would also avoid any problems with a “hybrid” House and avoid many of the problems associated with indirect election. Furthermore, it would allow for a smaller house, allow peers to retire and it complies with the original principles set out in the February 2007 White Paper. (Available here

    Further to Lord Norton’s comment about the costs of Gordon Brown’s ‘cheaper’ House, the article also mentions that the total amount paid as salary per member (over a 12 year term) would be some £600,000 – and cites the 2008 white paper in quoting £43 million pounds as the estimated cost of direct elections.

  23. Senex says:

    CH: I take your points onboard but feel you restrict your imagination to that of the present house as a bureaucratic reforming chamber. If you research Hansard prior to 1900 you will note that much debate is given over to peers discussing business affairs at home or abroad. This brought income into the Treasury at a time when ordinary people had little or no disposable income.

    Roll forward 100 years or so and what do we find? A house of Commons that takes and takes from the Treasury; is not business friendly in fact quite the opposite and all to put more disposable income into peoples pockets regardless of the cost to business.

    The world of money is divided into revenue and cost; I see the house more involved with revenue generation at every level of society through business. Employers have a right to have a formal representation in the house through constituency peers and for those peers to influence legislation in their favour if they can.

    Constituencies also act as an interposing layer between a peer, the public and their private lives. It is a very fine line that exists between the two under the present arrangement especially if a friend is involved with business.

    It is totally beyond me as to where the Commons thinks the money comes from. They don’t have a monetary policy instead they have a money tree policy and its fertilizer comes from the rotting corpse of business enterprise.

  24. Carl.H says:

    I can see your point but it appears to me to be a very old style Tory house you are suggesting, as someone whose interest in fiscal matters is practically nil(my eccentricity) I worry about such a concept.

    I understand how the modern world works but do not take me as a great lover of supply and demand. I have seen shameless profits made and been part but lost interest in the power of finance some while ago.

    Business I`m afraid is not a word I would use in the same sentence as honourable, however as I stated I am well aware of the need. I will think on this further tonight.

  25. Carl.H says:

    “If you research Hansard prior to 1900 you will note that much debate is given over to peers discussing business affairs at home or abroad. ”

    The World at that time was a very different place and the British Empire was still taking land and all the booty that came with it, mostly lead by intrepid Lords.

    I agree that British business tends not to have the backing of Parliament but feel that would be difficult for all as it is now a World market. British producers cannot compete with costs of often third World countries whose labour is practically nil in comparison. At the same time due to our luxurious lifestyle over the past decades the British worker in comparison with others has become lazy. One can survive reasonably well in this Country without lifting a finger whereas in others the cost of not working would be your life.

    The above is not to say the business sector is any better, quality products have been amiss in British producers for sometime. One only has to look to the Government Enterprose Guru, Lord Sugar, who has risen through producing imho second rate products but made reasonable profits from them. The emphasis is obviously on the financial side where business is concerned and not on the quality of product.

    We see daily in debate that business is well represented in the House through those who declare interests so I do not think it is lacking. We`ve also seen how that interest can over ride democracy, notably in the DEB.

    We have all seen cases of cash business, lose the VAT guv. We have seen businesses avoid taxation, either legally or otherwise. We have seen the businessmen who inflate expenses. More recently there have been more cases of peoples lives put at risk to increase profits. We`ve also seen the banking industry be completely negligent yet the business people behind that negligence still rewarded generously, this wouldn`t happen in nursing or the police.

    Large businesses have long cried out for self regulation, let the market place handle itself yet when it`s plans go awry they cry to Government for help. The DEB is prime example, for centuries music and drama were a beggars artform, business decided to make it profitable. At this point millions of our citizens mostly young are at risk of being criminalized because of profit and the inability of an industry to get their business package right. Evolution is being stunted by business for the sake of profit. These same businesses bought out the copiers that allowed people to counterfeit but no one cried out that they were actually in breach of copyright insomuch that it is illegal to import and sell items for the purpose of counterfeiting. The same businesses, Sony etc., are the ones now crying foul.

    Business is already to my mind over represented in Parliament although I admit in some places, not all, the regulation strangles it.

    What appears right to business doesn`t always work, the poll tax being a prime example. On the otherside, the humanist if you like, the fact that hundreds of thousands cannot get homes yet refugees and immigrants are put before them is also wrong.

    A balance has to be sought and it is this balance that must be sought for the upper house. Elections won`t get that balance correct, I do not believe the likes of the Lord Hyltons or Lady D`souza would even partake and that would be such a loss to our nation. We must retain a conscience in the House I do not believe elections backed purely by business or political party can do that.

  26. Senex says:

    JH: Thank you for the link it was very helpful and informative. Should one dare to presume that you are the author of the paper?

    The aim of LotB is to bring greater awareness of the HoL and its role to a wider audience. This is Parliament looking out from its sovereign vista to the outside world through plain glass and not the half silvered glass of Monarchy.

    People looking in and taking first impressions are bound to make suggestions about changes for the better without the prejudices of familiarity by those closest to politics or Parliament and my attempt at reform is nothing more than this. The best way to use the HoL is to give it the task of wealth creation; this after all was its historic role.

    The Commons on the other hand is the chamber that distributes wealth and attempts to ensure that people can enjoy happiness and a sense of wellbeing. The two roles would be quite different but complimentary. One earns the money the other spends it.

    So no, I’m not with LN on just keeping the HoL as an appointed reforming chamber. It deserves better, but to fulfil its potential it needs to be elected and not in a form that conforms to some political purity but a form that integrates it fully with contemporary society and its needs from a business perspective.

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