Lobbying the Lords

Lord Norton

One of the comments in response to Baroness Murphy’s post touches upon the extent to which people are now encouraged to lobby members of the House of Lords.  In this, there is nothing new.  One survey conducted in 1986 of charities, consumer groups, unions and other organised interests found that 70% had approached peers for the purpose of making representations to government or to influence public policy.  Over 80% had regular or frequent contact with one or more peers.  

Though the main focus continues to be the House of Commons – and, as shown in my previous post relating to mail received in the Palace, MPs receive more correspondence than peers – there has been a notable increase in lobbying material sent to peers in recent years.

The increase may be attributable to the somewhat higher profile of the Lords in recent decades, not least since 1999, as well as the new technology.  Though we continue to receive a large number of letters, most of the representations made to us on Bills now arrive electronically.  From the point of view of those lobbying, this is more efficient as well as less costly financially than mailing letters.  It is also more environmentally friendly, since we do not need to print out attachments unless relevant for our purposes.  There is also an element of catch-up involved.  If those arguing for one side lobby the Lords, then those making the opposite case feel the need to do so. 

Lobbying has increased in quantity and, in my observation, in quality as well.  Briefings tend to be clear and not too long.  Many recognise the need not only to identify the problem but also offer a solution.  Where lobbying bodiers seek to work through supporters, encouraging them to write to peers, they will tend to advise them to keep letters short and expressed in their own words.  Usually, though, it is a fairly obvious when letters are the product of interest group initiatives.

One point worth stressing is that it is not a case of groups having influence by dint of being well resourced.  Glossy material will have little effect if it is lacking in substance.  A letter written by an individual making a good case can have a much greater impact than a leaflet from some well-heeled campaigning organisation.  I read every personally-written letter that I receive; circular or printed material may only be looked at briefly to determine its relevance.

52 comments for “Lobbying the Lords

  1. 16/09/2011 at 11:09 am

    I find it curious that I still receive exhortations from organisations to copy/paste a letter to my MP on their behalf.

    I would have thought they would realise such activities do more harm than good, yet still the requests come through.

    Maybe Parliament could prepare a “copy/paste” response that I could send back to the lobbying organisations pointing out the error of their ways.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      16/09/2011 at 11:21 am

      IanVisits: One thing, mercifully, that we do not get are the postcard campaigns that are employed to lobby MPs. Ten personally-written letters have far more impact than 100 postcards which people have done no more than sign. MPs do tend to produce standard responses to campaigns. Failing that, they use the printed card thanking people for their communication ‘the contents of which have been noted’. You may wish to generate something similar – or simply refer them to relevant posts on websites!

  2. tory boy
    16/09/2011 at 1:18 pm

    Sad news that Baroness Browning is resigning, she has hardly been in her post for five minutes. I thought she was a very good minister however I am always sceptical when ministers resign on health grounds.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      16/09/2011 at 5:20 pm

      tory boy: I agree, I think she has been a very good minister indeed. I was very surprised by the news.

  3. Lord Blagger
    16/09/2011 at 1:47 pm

    So much for democracy. The unelected dictating to the public can be bought for the cost of 10 stamps and stationary.

    Time for the electorate to have the final say, not the unelected quangocrats.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      16/09/2011 at 5:23 pm

      Lord Blagger: This is so ridiculous it is difficult to know where to start. No one is dictating to anyone, as should be apparent from any reading of the post. It is the case of citizens who wish to make a case being able to do so, something that we very much welcome and seek to facilitate.

      • Lord Blagger
        17/09/2011 at 11:09 am

        Yes you are.

        You’ve already stated that if you don’t like what politicians are doing, you can get rid of them, maybe, 5 years later.

        How do we get rid of Lords? Ah yes – not democracy is it.

        In other words, you are telling us what to do and we have no democratic control over you.

        That’s a very good example of a dictatorship.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          17/09/2011 at 12:33 pm

          Lord Blagger: No, it’s a good example of the fact that you do not bother to read what others write:


          • Lord Blagger
            18/09/2011 at 1:13 pm

            Parliament is democratic to the extent that its pronouncements and actions (crudely, the laws it makes and the policies it pursues) are determined by the electorate through the decisions of the representatives they chose at properly-constituted and authorised elections.

            Written by you.

            The Lords are not elected. You aren’t democratic by your own definition. You are determining laws. Therefore very clearly you are a dictator.

            I do bother to read what you write. However, it does get to be farcical when you can’t even see the consequences of what you’ve actually written.

            That you provide the evidence that convicts you is the really funny part.

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            18/09/2011 at 3:59 pm

            Lord Blagger: This rather stands as proof positive of my point. If you had bothered to read the post properly you would know they are not my words. The rest of what you write is total codswallop. You have not grasped the point being made.

  4. Frank W. Summers III
    16/09/2011 at 2:04 pm

    Lord Norton,
    I for one am still hoping for some really enormous favours to come in time from the Christmas card I sent you last year.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      16/09/2011 at 5:23 pm

      Frank W. Summers III: You mean like a nice card from me?

      • Frank W. Summers III
        16/09/2011 at 7:26 pm

        Lord Norton,
        Well that might be rather nice in fact. Even if I have now designated it an enormous favour and therefore halved its value as social acoutrement in my rural post office.

    • Lord Blagger
      17/09/2011 at 11:07 am

      Depends on whether or not you included a ‘donation’. 🙂

      • Lord Norton
        Lord Norton
        17/09/2011 at 12:34 pm

        Lord Blagger: I’m rather in the Dennis Skinner school of thought on this one.

        • Lord Blagger
          18/09/2011 at 1:11 pm

          Denis Skinner.

          “£3,500 for alterations to my bathroom and kitchen and £800 for a sofa bed”

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            19/09/2011 at 9:40 am

            Lord Blagger: I incline to his views on lobbying. I may have a more modest approach to lifestyle.

          • maude elwes
            21/09/2011 at 7:48 am

            @Lord Blagger:

            If Skinner paid £800 for a sofa bed, he has poor judgment or lacks skills to research the small ads.

            A perfectly good and comfortable Sofabed can be bought from Sofa Sofa, a Welsh company and manufacturer, for £400 or less.

            Buy British is the answer. You can go and knock on their door if the item is rubbish. But my experience has been the very reverse, all good stuff from these people, without the super charge. And delivered to your door.

      • Frank W. Summers III
        20/09/2011 at 10:33 pm

        Lord Blagger.

        I have only recently really allowed it to sink in that your ancient post was first addressed as a reply to me. Sadly the card contained nothing of direct pecuniary value. I reserve the right to change that at some future time. However, a more challenging problem than the ethical one would be my lack of both resources and needs that join well with the needs and resources I would be lobbying. In truth, of course one never knows when any relationship may become suddenly useful in a practical sense. But I slow to see or seize such opportunities…

  5. maude elwes
    16/09/2011 at 5:29 pm

    The Lords takes on the role of the upper House and therefore instinct tells people the Commons is a purely political set up, whereas, the Lords may have a different reference.

    Also, lobbying the Lords is a way of overcoming the frustration of knowing the Commons is deaf, dumb and blind to the electorate. The Lords, on the other hand, appear more open to ‘listening’ and accepting what they hear. Whether they will take it on boards or not.

    I suspect it is the total disregard they feel as human beings that leads them to ‘hope’ that perhaps, if they go to the top, the Lords, their cause may take hold.


  6. MilesJSD
    17/09/2011 at 6:13 am

    One issue follows from the posts to this “Lobbying of Parliamentarians” matter,

    but I think this issue will ub-divide into strategy ‘versus’ tactics, into theory vs practice, and into other dichotomisations such as morals versus ethics, and constitutional vs legislative, respectively:
    Given that, as Lord Norton intimates quite ‘democratically’,
    “A letter written by an individual making a good case”

    (and I wish you to ‘stretch’ this to include “points, premisses, argumentation, or cases” submitted by an individual via any other channel, such as via the Lords of the Blog e-site”)

    “can have -” a greater standing than a similar letter written by any organisation.
    Let me begin with an end-result, multi-barreled question, to whomsoever it concerns, may concern, or should concern:
    The question:
    Respectively, what Workplace and Lifeplace
    requirements and provisions are there for our Governing Establishment Members to maintain and continually improve their individual holistic healths as workers and as Earth-supportive citizens ?

    and to maintain and continually improve that same individual holistic health for all of the British People ?
    Is there a state-of-the-art Individual Holistic Human Development education and remediation centre, and team of leading holistic health and education practitioners and consultants therein, within the Westminster Governance Precinct, exclusively for our governance workers parliamentary, judiciary, civil-service, and NGOs, to be regularly assessed and supported by ?

  7. Lord Blagger
    18/09/2011 at 5:17 pm

    The point is still well made. You’ve denied being a dictator.

    However, you admit that we can’t kick you out, and that the ability to kick out the failures and the fraudsters is democracy.

    So I think you need to take a basic course in logic. Not a particular good grade on your homework, and I worry about your students.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      19/09/2011 at 9:35 am

      Lord Blagger: ‘The point is still well made’. Only in your mind. All this masks is a reluctance to concede that you did not even read the post correctly. Your observations are disjointed and derive from no obvious grasp either of definitions or of the point being made in the piece about democracy and its meaning. You need to reflect a little more on the meaning of democracy.

  8. Lord Blagger
    19/09/2011 at 10:16 am

    Democracy is the electorate having what they wish implemented on the basis of a majority of voters being in favour. It’s also about the electorate taking responsibility for those decisions.

    In a representative democracy, the problems are with representatives breaking the covenant with the electorate by doing the opposite of what they said they were going to do, or by doing things they kept hidden from the electorate.

    With a representational democracy the only control the electorate have is to kick out the crooks who deceived them, at the next election.

    Now in the UK, we don’t have a representational democracy because you are not subject to the electorate.

    You decide on laws, and impose them on the electorate without the electorate having a say in whether or not you are a fit or proper person.

    That’s all factual.

    You’re not addressing one single item of fact, just going on an ad hominiem attack.

    Conclusion, you haven’t got any facts to back up your position, or you would have deployed them.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      19/09/2011 at 8:08 pm

      Lord Blagger: It is not all factual, as has been pointed out endlessly to you in the past. The House of Lords, unlike the House of Commons, is not a veto player and as a result cannot block the enactment of measures determined by the House elected by the people. That is the value of our system. You have not grasped the fact that if two chambers are elected and the second demands powers commensurate with the fact of election, then that undermines the line of accountability between people and the body chosen to govern and deliver on a programme of public policy placed before the people at the election. (Contrary to what you may think, parties in government in the UK have a good track record of delivering on manifesto promises.) If a party in government fails to deliver, the electors know who to hold to account. If accountabilility is divided, then there is no one body they can hold responsible. The situation in the US exemplifies the point.

      Your whole argument is based on a flawed premise that has not been applicable since 10 August 1911.

  9. 19/09/2011 at 12:38 pm

    Dear Lords,

    The September Results from the After Atos Assessment – online rolling feedback survey and rolling results for all those taking the Atos Assessment are now published on Facebook and are available in pdf if any would request one from afteratos@mail.com.

    These feedback results are free for anyone to use and share and back up any argument they may have and in trying to bring it forward to others.


    After Atos would like to cover all aspect of diability including the carers and the DLA and Tribunal process. and with funding and more bodies would do. But as set up and run by one lone disabled person with some great degree of severe impairment cannot do everything, but provides a vital tool for people to record their experiences, facts and stats and a vital information resource for those looking for back up supportive evidence, and what better than from the disabled themselves.

    Good Luck with your letter.

    Prof Harrington’s review and concluding report is to take over 5 years. After Atos Assessment takes and record the experience as it happens in rolling monthly feedback survey and results. How more relevant and instant is that? And by looking at our 6 month feedback the Atos WCA/ESA debacle needs to be stopped. NOW!! and a return to reason and sense.


  10. Lord Blagger
    19/09/2011 at 8:42 pm

    You still miss the point.

    You are passing laws that affect the UK citizen.

    You can introduce laws that affect UK citizens. You’ve admitted as much.

    You are not elected.

    You are not democratic.

    Trying to divert attention that there will be a contest if the two house are elected it tripe.

    It’s so easy to disprove that its pathetic that I have to point it out to you.

    The Lords has refused to pass laws in the past and quite recently.

    It was you who also pointed out that in a democracy, the electorate has to rely on not reelecting the scum who break the covenant.

    We can’t do that with you.

    You’ve failed your own test about what it is to be democratic.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      20/09/2011 at 10:43 am

      Lord Blagger: No, you still have not grasped the basic point about Parliament and who ‘makes’ the law. It is no good slinging words around without, as milesjsd notes, having a clear definition of what you are talking about. The Lords can invite the Commons to think again by sending amendments back, but it is the Commons that decides what happens. We can vote against amendments and even bills, but the Commons can, and does, override us. That ensures the basic line of accoutability.

      Pointing out that there will be divided accountability in the event of two elected chambers is something that has been variously argued, as in Dr Tyler’s contribution, and is part of an intellectual discourse which is not exactly undermined by your unsubstantiated condemnation.

      • Lord Blagger
        20/09/2011 at 11:53 am

        Who originated the Steele bill.

        Was it the Commons or the Lords.

        Proof by counterexample.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          21/09/2011 at 10:43 am

          Lord Blagger: You mean the Steel Bill. It was introduced in the Lords, which proves that, well, it was introduced in the Lords.

          • Lord Blagger
            21/09/2011 at 11:53 am

            Proves the point. Created in the Lords. A Lord making the law. Someone creating a law who is not subject to democratic control.

            You have pointed out that the only way we can control politicians is to sack them at a future date. [Factually correct]

            So a law created by an unelected politician – David Steele. [Factually correct]

            A law that affects the UK citizen. [Factually correct]

            That politician is not subject to democratic control. [Factually correct]

            It’s not democratic government because we cannot vote against David Steele for what he’s done. [In this case tried to do]

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            21/09/2011 at 1:51 pm

            Lord Blagger: I rest my case. You have no grasp of meaning or rather adopt a meaning that no one else employs. Introducing an amendment or a bill is not ‘making’ law. You cannot grasp the difference between a proposal being put forward and being agreed: they are not one and the same thing. Law is ‘made’ by Parliament. The Steel Bill is not law. It is a Bill put forward by Lord Steel, though not drafted by him. (So you incorrect on more than one level.) The rest of your argument therefore falls. There is nothing about that is factually accurate since it is built on a false premise.

      • Lord Blagger
        20/09/2011 at 11:55 am

        That ensures the basic line of accoutability.


        Apart from the spelling, it was you who said that political accountability is the ballot box. You are making decisions on the law. For example, do the Lords make amendments? Answer yes. That is law originating in the Lords without democratic control.

        If we look at fraud, there is no democratic control that the victims of the fraud have over the fraudsters in the Lords. You for a start won’t even kick them out. Look at Trustcot’s attendance claims for a starter.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          21/09/2011 at 10:53 am

          Lord Blagger: You really must a grasp on language. Language has a purpose and without words having meaning it has no purpose. You throw around words which mean different things but treat them as if they are the same and then conjoin them without showing a logical connection. I really am getting sick and tired of your total incapacity to grasp simple points. The fact that one can put forward amendments in the Lords and get them agreed by the House is not making law. How many times does one have to repeat that before it sinks in? Law is not made by the House of Lords. (The closest one could come to making that claim was when the law lords delivered judgments.) The House of Commons has to approve measures in order to become law. The House of Commons is a veto player. The House of Lords is not. I have moved amendments which have become law but neither I nor the House of Lords has made law. My amendment became law because the Government saw merit in it and consequently the House of Commons saw merit in it. But, then, individuals and bodies outside Parliament can suggest changes in the law and many organisations can and do propose changes – some of the organisations, in the eyes of some, possibly having greater sway with Government than the House of Lords – and some of these are accepted and pursued by Government. On your logic, we are thus all potential law makers.

          Your last observation rather makes my point about the fact that the House of Lords by itself cannot make law. If it could, this problem would have been addressed, since the Steel Bill, if we had our way, would now be law.

          • Lord Blagger
            21/09/2011 at 11:49 am

            The fact that one can put forward amendments in the Lords and get them agreed by the House is not making law.


            So in other words, if you don’t make the law in any way, we don’t need a house of Lords.

            That’s 600 million saved over a parliamentary term.

            You’re also wriggling.

            I have moved amendments which have become law

            Do I have that right? No. The public cannot table any amendments. You cannot logically extrapolate.

            Unless, of course, I’m wrong and I can table a law for debate. In which case, tell me who to send the document to.

            You’re contradicting yourself.

            First you can’t make the laws.

            Then you can write a law.

            Your last observation rather makes my point about the fact that the House of Lords by itself cannot make law


            I have moved amendments which have become law

            Are contradictory. Either you are making the law, by writing it and then getting it voted on. ie. You have created that law. Or you haven’t.

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            21/09/2011 at 1:53 pm

            Lord Blagger: There is no contradiction but rather a rather simple failure on your part to grasp meaning. Bills and amendments are not law. You seem to fail to get beyond that rather basic fact. Any individual can put forward suggestions and, if they are any good, they are likely to be pursued. The House of Lords does an excellent job in carrying out its myriad functions. I can recommend some good works which explain these.

  11. MilesJSD
    20/09/2011 at 12:53 am

    The above “debate” between Lord Blagger and Lord Norton is an example of “win-lose” intent and communication, or as Edward de Bono’s book-title says it “I’m Right You’re Wrong”.

    Each participant is putting forward some good intention, and each is making some clear statements, and cogent argumentation;


    each is also including error, lack-of-communication skill, enthymeme and (therefore, if you like) fallacy.

    Quickly, Lord Norton is using the “You” message trap and barrier to clear communication for instance “No, (Blagger), it’s a good example of the fact that you do not bother to read what others write”; but Lord Norton more win-losingly is failing to appreciate the “good”, the construction-oriented intention, in Lord Blagger’s contributions
    (and Here, as Dr Joad used to say on the BBC Brains Trust broadcasts (way back) we must all stop to clearly state what we each mean, centrally in this case by “democracy”)…

    Lord Blagger tells Lord Norton to take a course in basic logic; but although “saving himself” by beginning “I think”, his ensuing message is a projection one in the sense that he (Blagger himself) would probably benefit from such a course in basic logic (too).

    (Where are the qualified, impartial, and ‘honestly-democratic’ PhDs’ critiques, needed to come on line here ?)

    My previous submission ‘pushes’ for an “Individual Holistic Human Development Education and Remediation Centre”,
    not only within Westminster for all Governance employees (including of course all Upper House members),
    but as a national-network of centres for the use of all of The People, all of the Time

    (Last century, Australia’s universities were screening knowledge and know-how courses 52 weeks a year)

    So our British Individual Holistic Human Development centres could surely also include “Democratic Governance Enablements For All”, including “basic logic” and other sustainworthy lifeplace and participatory-democracy essentials, couldn’t they ?

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      20/09/2011 at 10:44 am

      milesjsd: “Lord Blagger tells Lord Norton to take a course in basic logic; but although “saving himself” by beginning “I think”, his ensuing message is a projection one in the sense that he (Blagger himself) would probably benefit from such a course in basic logic (too).” Well, indeed.

  12. Lord Blagger
    20/09/2011 at 11:58 am

    Perhaps you should read your own posts.

    It was you who stated that the basis of a representative democracy is the ability of the electorate to get rid of people making the law at the ballot box.

    Now its clear you make the law. Amendments originate in the Lords. If you are claiming otherwise please say so, because that leads on to a different argument.

    So what is it?

    The Lords don’t change the law, or the Lords do change the law.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      20/09/2011 at 2:41 pm

      Lord Blagger: Amendments can be introduced in the House of Lords. Bills can be introduced in the House of Lords. If there was nothing between that action and a measure becoming the law, then the House of Lords would be making the law. However, there is something between, which is the body that determines the ultimate outcome.
      The courts do not enforce anything decided simply by the House of Lords. They enforce only Acts of Parliament and the ultimate say as to whether anything passes into law as an Act is the House of Commons.

  13. Lord Blagger
    20/09/2011 at 3:27 pm

    Proving my point. You do introduce and create laws. You are also unelected and not democratic.

    Unelected people creating laws.

    Same issue as the EU. Unelected people creating laws where we can’t remove them by the ballot box.

    You also have the flip side.

    Laws being created that have no democratic scrutiny. Albeit here, some people (not all) could remove the offender at some time in the future.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      21/09/2011 at 10:54 am

      Lord Blagger: See my above response. You have no grasp of the distinction between bringing forward proposals and getting them accepted.

  14. MilesJSD
    21/09/2011 at 12:37 am

    Is milesjsd the only British citizen wanting participatory-democracy ?
    preceded by clear definitions e.g. of all possible democracies and, especially urgently, of now-prevailing “full-democracies” and “part-democracies” ?

    Lord Blagger: it is very difficult to see a good intention in your latest “So what is it ? The Lords don’t change the law, or the Lords do change the law ?”
    because British law-making and changing is obviously grinding alons a “doubles” match but “singly” with the Commons at one end and the Lords at the other
    (the “Umpire” nowadays appears to be a computerised-constitution, read out aloud by suitably drilled and appointed robotic state-servants when necessary, doesn’t it)
    so the Lords is part-and-parcel of British law-making, and whilst “winning” some games, even occasionally a complete set, it always “loses” every match; and it is the Commons who is in the “unfair” dominance seat.
    The People effectively are reduced to non-participant spectators non-status in “the gallery”;
    whilst competitively wealthy Business Professionals occupy all the “contact” positions and lobbying-avenues in and around this deeply British oligarchical governance-game-precinct.

    Lord Norton, whilst reading aloud from the rule-book,
    to my mind quite correctly but also too often “red-herringly”,
    misses opportunities to appreciate the good intentions in other participants’ submissions, and more worryingly avoids giving clear definition to key terms he uses, principally here of his “democracy” which to my mind appears actually to be an “oligarchy, of the three-party-state” variety and certainly not a “progressively participatory governance of the People, for the People, by the People – continuously between Election and Referendum days”.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      21/09/2011 at 10:57 am

      milesjsd: I think you offer an interesting and pertinent analogy. On definition, I concur with that proferred by Dr Tyler, whose area of expertise this is.

      • maude elwes
        26/09/2011 at 12:09 pm

        @Lord Norton.

        Expertise is only expert before being proved flawed or undiluted.

        Take Einsteins theory on the speed of light for example. Cast in stone until Cern, recently, had to admit his ‘expertise’ may not be what it’s cracked up to be!

        Ideas are ‘always’ faulty until proven to be fact without ‘any’ doubts.

        • Lord Norton
          Lord Norton
          26/09/2011 at 12:30 pm

          maude elwes: I think you may be confusing expertise and truth!

          • maude elwes
            27/09/2011 at 7:40 am

            @Lord Norton:

            Surely ‘expertise’ has to be accompanied by truth. Otherwise it is unaccountable and therefore pointless.

          • Lord Norton
            Lord Norton
            27/09/2011 at 6:09 pm

            maude elwes: We can test and sometimes prove propositions, but usually we are dealing with probability statements as well as explaining why things have happened.

        • Lord Blagger
          26/09/2011 at 1:16 pm

          Unlikely to be true.

          There are existing measurements involving supernova. Neutrinos arrive at the same time as the light. Given the distances, this is far more accurate.

  15. MilesJSD
    21/09/2011 at 2:21 pm

    How far has your UK top-definer, Lord Tyler upon “democracy”, actually lived as one of, and at the permanently-low-income level of, the majority of The People around whom he designs and helps to put in place democratic access-blocking containing-walls, barbed-fences, and blood-red DO NOT CROSS double-lines ?

    What about all the other definers and their definitions around and upon other tables than the Lord Tyler and Lord Norton one, (please) ?

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