Debating Lords reform

indexFor those interesting in watching Thursday’s debate on the report of the Labour Peers Working Group on Reform of the House of Lords, the first three hours of the debate can be seen here.  My own contribution comes at just over 1.43 hours into the debate.   There was a clear mood in the House favouring progress on changes, not least of the sort embodied in the original Steel Bill.

About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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13 Responses to Debating Lords reform

  1. Lord Norton,

    It would be fascinating if the USA and the UK should hold overlapping constitutional conventions. I believe we are closer to holding a federal convention than we have been in a very long time. Which means the odds are still not that good at all. A betting man would be better advise to lay money on continuity without one. State constitutions get convened and reformed with much greater frequency. But one of the great state conveners is running for Congress again and many are discussing the possibility.

  2. maude elwes says:

    Lord Norton, this debate was very interesting and I was glued to it for three quarters of it way through. I will return to it at some point soon. I did want to give a little overall impression of what was discussed.

    1) Down to 450 should be an immediate cull.
    2) End of hereditary peers is a must in a modern democracy.
    3) I feel the political number must be adjusted after every election, and should a party be eliminated in any general election, as the LibDems maybe, then that must be reflected in the Lords. Not to do so is absurd from my point of view.
    4) The selection of Peers should not be based on any kind of politically correct nonsense. The only criteria in Parliament must be merit and ability. Not because of gender or appearance on the benches. Not over 80 is also narrow thinking. many people of extreme ability are late bloomers and can go on into their hundreds. But an eye should be kept on reason.
    5) I don’t like fixed term Parliaments. It cannot be in the interests of a nation. Look at the US. Stuck with their President regardless of ability and policies, to the point of destruction of the country.
    6) If the introduction of other religions must be introduced, which I don’t like one bit as we are a Christian country, then the appointments must only reflect the population of those religions, the rest remaining heavily weighted as Christian. Alternatively complete elimination of this group.
    7) Powers of the Lords increased with election.
    8) I liked the majority of what Lord Rooker had to say. Made sense. Commitment is mandatory.
    9) Written constitution a must. With practical day to day stuff included.
    10) No legislation rushed through, as Senex raised on LOTB. Makes for poor laws needing constant reviews.
    11) End of robes but a question mark over titles as, if a Lord is trying to glean information his authority and power to get things done should be indicated in some way. If not a title then some other means. Plus, Lords should not be under fifty ever. We need a level of life experience in a revising chamber. And not all can be ‘working’ Lords, that will not float.
    12) I do feel, now, that perhaps a small percentage of the Lords should be appointed to those in the public with exceptional ability of some sort. But not political appointments or PC nonsense.

    It really was kind of you to include this debate here on your blog, as being able to pick the most interesting from ‘Democracy Live’ is not always easy if you are unaware of content. So thank you.

    • Maude Elwes.
      Our systems are designed to function in very different ways. But we could and have impeached a President. We have done that even in my lifetime.

      • maude elwes says:

        Yes Frank, I did write the above in somewhat of a hurry. So, I note your jibe. However, we also can impeach the Blair creature should the back bench MP’s do their jobs properly and Galloway is calling for his head as I write, gives you a clue.

        I did put this on LOTB but because you are in foreign lands I will make a second offer. It’s the second guy, Sir Peter Tapsell, who brings attention to it. He asks our PM his views on the move. The opposition conveniently ignores the issue.

        However, want to bet you will do nothing about your leader of war mongers at the time, the Bush instigator. That old drunk is going to get off scot free, no Hague for him. However, you do have the opportunity to hang him, the way it was arranged to hang Saddam. We don’t have that option for out traitors.

    • Lord Norton says:

      maude elwes: At the risk of shocking you, though I don’t agree with all your points (especially 9) I agree with a good number of them!

      • maude Elwes says:

        Now there is an enigma, LN, what is your beef with number 9? I felt it would clarify the rights of the common man. A sort of modern day Magna Carta. We could have the best written constitution ever. And it could do away with Blair style leadership. The British Prime Minister has too much power and too much secrecy surrounds that power.

      • Lord Norton says:

        maude Elwes: A codified constitution would prevent a powerful executive employing secrecy in order to implement policies favoured by the head of government. You mean like in the United States? Oh, hang on…

    • James Hand says:

      Many thanks to Lord Norton and Maude Elwes for these posts which inspired me to get down to reading the full debate which then led to my writing a post about it on the UKCLA blog (

      Re point 9 – the LSE crowdsourcing project may be of interest to Maude Elwes and others ( ; sorry, if you know about it already – I can’t immediately recall whether its been mentioned here).

  3. ME,
    I do get PMQs on public broadcasting, You Tub and a couple of other places. So I will look for that spot soon. But just so you know I reproduce what your link shows me: “BC iPlayer TV programmes are available to play in the UK only. Find out why.
    If you are in the UK and see this message please read this advice ”

    It is not so common as one might think to find no other access to a piece of information but it does happen. I of course respect Britain’s right to regulate such traffic as it pleases.

  4. maude elwes says:

    @ Frank:

    I was surprised by your revelation regarding PMQ’s not being accessible outside Europe. That doesn’t make sense if the purpose of the game is to educate the globe on Democracy and how it works.

    Also, it may interest you to know that I found out only yesterday that a call for Blair impeachment was drafted and put before the House by, Douglas Hogg – Edward Garnier – Elfyn Llwyd and Alex Salmond but the Whips wouldn’t support it. so the bill wasn’t selected. One does have to wonder why? LOL….. And to move forward to present day fiddlers, The Chilcot Report – Publish and be Damned.

  5. maude elwes says:


    In theory, yes, akin to the US. However, what I see is, the US executive branch of government when illegally acting unconstitutionally, engaging in wars on lies, delving into a black economy, repeatedly circumventing both Congress and Judiciary. This reveals what is missing in the US constitution and that is, a direct short cut to the impeachment process and prosecution of cabinet, non elected advisers, and possible lobbyists. As no one is held to account. In a newly written British constitution that can be corrected. Can it not?

  6. maude elwes says:

    @James Hand.

    Many thanks for your kind link. No, I didn’t know of this LSE initiative, but I do now. What good news that is. Best wishes, ME

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