More on an inadequate Bill

I have been doing more work on the House of Lords Reform Bill and the Government’s proposals.  I have drawn up a list of problems deriving from them.  There isn’t space to reproduce them all here – it’s a long list.  I thought I would identify one or two which may be of interest.

The Government’s proposals are incoherent even in their own terms.  According to the Government, those who ‘make the law’ should be elected.  The Impact Assessment asserts: “An elected House of Lords will create a second chamber that has democratic legitimacy while maintaining an element of independent expertise through the appointment of 20% of its members by the Independent House of Lords Appointments Commission.”  In other words, not all those who ‘make the laws’ will be elected.  There is no explanation of how ‘democratic legitimacy’ will somehow waft over the members who are not elected. 

The Government wish to keep the relationship between the two Houses as it presently exists.  It sought to do so through Clause 2 of the original Bill.  That was rejected unanimously by the Joint Committee.  The new Clause 2 states that the Parliament Acts will continue to apply.  There is no mechanism included for dispute resolution between the two Houses, nothing to prevent the second chamber using to full the existing powers, or to stop it demanding more.  Asserting the primacy of the Commons through the Parliament Acts does not prevent the relationship changing between the two Houses, especially given the new House will, on the Government’s own argument, enjoy democratic legitimacy. 

 Stating that the Parliament Acts remain in place does nothing to address the fact that there is no rationale for them remaining in place.  The preamble to the 1911 Parliament Act recognised that a House constituted on a more popular basis would need to have its powers and functions re-examined.  This Bill repeals the preamble to the 1911 Act.  As a preamble has no legal force, the reason for repealing it appears to be to hide the Government’s failure to acknowledge that an elected second chamber cannot continue on the same basis as an unelected chamber. 

More later…..

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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6 Responses to More on an inadequate Bill

  1. Pingback: House of Lords reform – #notlikethis «

  2. franksummers3ba says:

    Lord Norton,
    For reasons of expediency and effect I am hoping you will allow me to repeal the comma following “Lord Norton” in some of my more conservative posts. I feel this will give the posts a more modern and utilitarian feel and make my politics more agreeable….

  3. maudie33 says:

    Lord Norton,

    What you have written to kick this thread off should make you sit up and take note that a government who cannot come up with a sensible suggestion for change, is a government that should not be close to running this country?

    My suspicion is, that no matter what government was in power, the suggested changes would be a nonsense. And that is, because no one wants a slick running, powerful government that expects precision and agile minds within it. That would mean none, presently in situ, could be kept as fodder the way they are and offered to the public as they are profoundly lacking in intelligence and political ability akin to the shameful brigade of women stuffed down our throats as worthy for election and a post in the Treasury no less. This is what you push us into accepting as the way to go. A bunch of inexperienced kids put up to insult us all. Government should hang its head in shame. And this is what is supposed be good for the Boardrooms of our companies with a threat thrown out if we refuse the cost to take them?

    Our nation is being run by incompetence. No wonder all they can come up with as a main issue for debate is Gay Marriage. What else could they handle?

    • Lord Norton says:

      maudie33: I don’t think it is the Government per se, but rather particular ministers. I am, incidentally, seeking to ensure that ministers are better trained (or indeed trained) in matters of government; though in some cases I despair.

  4. ladytizzy says:

    Turgid stuff. It’ll take more than two days in the HoC to discuss whether the term ‘Member of Parliament’ would be too ambiguous.

    • Lord Norton says:

      ladytizzy: Given that the Government haven’t even thought what to call members of an elected second chamber (A House of Lords with no lords), I did think of ‘Member of Not the House of Lords’.

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