Lords Reform – a mugs game

Lord Soley

As a newly elected MP in 1979 it seemed obvious to me that we needed to elect the Lords. No question about it! Unelected legislators in the age of democracy – it must be wrong! So like most MPs I took it for granted that Labour’s election manifesto of 1910 must finally be honoured. I now have a memorial mug given to me by Margaret Becket MP with the quotation from that election saying:
You are again being asked to return a majority pledged to remove the House of Lords as a block in the working of our constitution.
Do it, and do it emphatically.

So why is reform or abolition of the Lords such a persistent and challenging task? All three parties said in their last manifestos that the Lords should be elected but the closer you get to the arguments the more complex and questionable it becomes. The current Governments Draft Bill has exposed the fault lines.

More to follow!

36 comments for “Lords Reform – a mugs game

  1. 21/04/2012 at 10:18 pm

    I used to think that the Lords should be replaced with an elected chamber. Then I spent two weeks’ interning with a deputy speaker. Completely changed my mind: peers are committed, dedicated, knowledgeable, civilised people who stick up for civil liberties. None of that, sadly, can be said of our current selection of MPs.

    That said, I love the mug!

    • Lord Blagger
      23/04/2012 at 9:32 am

      So much so that they voted through RIPA. Councils can put you under survilance without a warrant.

      All brought to you by the Lords.

  2. Rich
    22/04/2012 at 2:38 am

    From the Conservative Manifesto: “We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current house of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.”

    You can call that cynical, dishonest, a fudge, or whatever you like, but I don’t see how you can call that a commitment to introduce legislation, especially in this Parliament, replacing the House of Lords.

  3. Gareth Howell
    22/04/2012 at 6:43 am

    I am glad Comrade Soley has made a categorical statement in favour of abolition, whilst being a member of it. Some people think that joining it, is supporting it, especially since there are no legislative rights attached to membership which could promote abolition.

    That was certainly my own view from 1997 onwards, when I turned down the favor of membership. In some ways I would now see such such a favor as a thorough going insult.

    In the case of Lord Falconer and the Law Lords reform he had to be there to reform it.
    It could hardly have been done otherwise.

    I am surprised that the creation of a Republic of Australia is not on the agenda too, regardless of what the “wishes” of the Australian people are.

    A genealogical approach to monarchic, or any landed estate, heredity is not sufficient either. Genetics has got to be the order of the future.

    I know of several thoroughly spurious, but successful claims, to large estates even in my own life time.

    Even though the genetic data file might be fraudulently corrupted as well, at least there is some guarantee of proper possession.

  4. Lord Blagger
    22/04/2012 at 8:27 am

    You have it in your power to do something about it, as do you fellow peers.

    Simply stop turning up. Stop claiming those expenses.

    With no one turning up, the job is done.

    My bet is that the money is too attractive.

  5. maude elwes
    22/04/2012 at 10:26 am

    To me the reason this matter cannot be settled is as a result of nobody wanting it rid of. This second chamber has always been a sanctuary for those who want an ongoing fat pension they don’t have to contribute to. You know, the ones who are a worthless bunch of cheats and scoundrels who hang onto those benches to promote their status and get paid for old rope. Not bad cheap meals thrown in at the same time.

    Then there are the others, the ones who want to sell ermine for a nice little settlement. The Blair creature was big into that arm of it. Although I’m sure this has been a little sideline for years to all of them.

    Mustn’t forget the hereditaries. Now they are up in arms as they are at the point of being knocked off the block altogether. Imagine no privileges in that red room for them any longer, and how will they pull pushy without that additional enducement? The better class of crumpet expect more than a stately home, don’t they? A title is very important to those stilt walkers, as their sons keep the farce going when all else is lost. Look at the Middleton’s, from East End street market to throne, in one easy lesson. Read up on how to emulate a mother’s every move. No longer poor Nell left to starve on demise.

    And think about this, it all comes via the tax payer. We are faced with the upkeep of these performing pooches and the cost is extraordinary.

    Mind you, they do allow the little folk to tour and drool at their fortune. Of course expecting a kneel or bow to their superiority as they pass. Surprised there isn’t a big sign to remind us all to remember our P’s and Q’s over how to adulate correctly.

    So, this place will never be reformed properly until it is taken on by an outside body who has absolutely nothing to gain from keeping it going. One that isn’t going to get a back hander to make it easy for those riders in red.


    Too good to pass up isn’t it?

    • Lord Blagger
      23/04/2012 at 9:30 am

      And think about this, it all comes via the tax payer. We are faced with the upkeep of these performing pooches and the cost is extraordinary.


      So much money that Lord Norton won’t post his numbers to be verified.

    • Lord Norton
      Lord Norton
      23/04/2012 at 4:49 pm

      maud elwes: There is no salary, so there is no pension.

      • Lord Blagger
        23/04/2012 at 5:55 pm

        So how come there are calls for redundancy or retirement packages?

      • maude elwes
        24/04/2012 at 10:36 am

        @Lord Norton:

        Technically they don’t receive a salary as such. But, you know far better than I how much they really rake in.

        They collect £150 a day just to turn up. Then another £150 a day on top of the first figure for staying there part of the day.

        They also get an addtional £45,000 a year in housing and travel expenses. On top of this they have the added advantage of not paying tax on any of it.

        Now if you work that out, £1,500 a week, or, £6,000 a month, that is a nice earner by anyones standard. As not paying tax is a lovely place to be. It means they truly recieve £8,000 a month with an additional £3,750 permonth for housing and tavel. That is around £12,000 per month.

        Then there’s the cheap food, cheap drink and the added perks of being a Lord.

        Heh, heh, heh, not paid. I wish I had £12,000 a month to play with for simply turning up and showing my face at a soft joint.

        That works out at £144,000 a year, pro rata.

        • Lord Blagger
          24/04/2012 at 2:12 pm

          And they are asking for redundancy payouts of 500,000 pounds if sacked from a non-job.

          • maude elwes
            27/04/2012 at 12:37 pm


            No doubt the first in line for the half a million pounds will be those who cheat expenses and are still able to take their place to ‘Lord’ it over us. As well as pass measures to see us suffer from all the austerity they won’t join in with.

        • Lord Blagger
          27/04/2012 at 2:20 pm

          As well as pass measures to see us suffer from all the austerity they won’t join in with.



          Not only did the Lords and MPs create the mess, by inaction and deliberate deceit, they will as you say, opt out from the effects.

          That’s why Cameron’s, we are all in it together is wrong.

          I want those responsible to go to jail for the mess.

          Why should there be collective punishment for the innocent?

  6. Joseph Frank
    22/04/2012 at 3:38 pm

    Do you really believe it? The House of Lords is the greatest and oldest form of the British greatness. It existed many years before the commons. And think: what the commons are? They are just a bunch of people elected by another bunch of people of absolitely no importance. They were elected just because they were candidates. On the other hand, no person can become a Lord (or Baroness, or Earl etc.) if they haven’t done something admirable or if someone of their ancestors had done something admirable. Only men (and women) who have PROVED their worth become Lords. And what’s the century of democracy? Do you really believe that democracy is only voting? And, if in one country they vote then it’s a democracy while if in another they don’t vote it isn’t a democracy? It would be wisest to abolish the commons instead they are a house of… fallacy, if you want. They drive us to believe that one’s worth derives from one’s popular support, not from one’s deeds. Thank you very much!

  7. Lord Blagger
    23/04/2012 at 9:29 am

    On the other hand, no person can become a Lord (or Baroness, or Earl etc.) if they haven’t done something admirable or if someone of their ancestors had done something admirable.


    And look at how good the selection process was.

    1. Lord Taylor – Jailed for fraud
    2. Lord Hanningfield – Jailed for fraud.

    That ignores the cover up. [It’s a state secret, you aren’t allowed to know what others were up to. Mods, you’ve had the details, if you want to know, ask David Beamish for the details]

    So why can’t I have a vote? Why can’t you have a vote.

    So on the question of deeds. How about some comments on the fraudsters?

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    23/04/2012 at 6:52 pm

    Councils can put you under survilance without a warrant.
    and charge you in the magistrates’ court with one, but remember you do not have to turn up!

  9. lawrencevanrijn
    24/04/2012 at 5:57 am

    I partially agree with Gabriel Webber. I feel that a commited group of peers would be a stabilising factor in the whirly forever changing sea of MP’s. It does not matter whether it is Labour or Tory. I feel that the Lords are essential to push forward some of the long term plans that benefit the Commonwealth.
    I feel it is also essential for the face of the law. A temporary MP (no insult intended) would not have the needed knowledge of Law a (Law) Lord has, they have been monitoring the changes over (many) years. I feel it does come with the known disadvantage that change is not so easily gotten, but stability seems essential too (in my humble opinion).

  10. Gareth Howell
    24/04/2012 at 3:01 pm

    I feel that the Lords are essential to push forward some of the long term plans that benefit the Commonwealth

    The commonwealth is one of the things that we should like to get rid of,particularly Australia, bastion of monarchy.

    Why Blagger reckons you have to do something admirable to be a peer, I really can’t imagine. If anything the contrary is true.

    • Lord Blagger
      25/04/2012 at 11:05 am

      Why Blagger reckons you have to do something admirable to be a peer, I really can’t imagine. If anything the contrary is true.


      I don’t. You’re confusing me with another poster, Joseph Frank.

  11. Lord Soley
    Lord Soley
    24/04/2012 at 4:54 pm

    Gareth. I have not come out in favour of an elected chamber – wait for the next instalment!

    Maude You really must get it right about expenses. The system is not perfec but it is much better than it was and much more transparent. We get £300 per day but only if you are involved in official House business – in committee etc.If you are only in for a short period of the day you can reduce the £300 to £150 and most of us do from time to time. When I attend during recess to do backup work I get no pay/allowance at all.
    Peers get NO other allowance or pay on top of this except travel expenses from your home outside London to the House.
    It is tax free BUT I ,like others, pay (or underpay!) my PA out of this money and any Peer who stays in london has to pay their own accomodation whatever it is.
    So look on the web site and see how much we get and then throw a penny or two when you see me playing my violin in the street! (I should tell Lord Blagger that that is a joke as he has had a sense of humpour bypass)

    • maude elwes
      25/04/2012 at 7:46 am

      @Lord Soley:

      The difficulty is in finding the exact amount on any of the websites that claim knowledge.

      The figures I came up with are the nearest I could get to clarity.

      However, whilst I searched I came across this little snippet. Oh, what fun to be able to claim the tax payers money whilst lobbying for money havens these types love so much.


      I’m sure Joseph Frank feels this guy is doing this on behalf of the poor, disabled and sick. They being of such honourable stock and all that.

      The quicker the rogues of Parliament are made short shrift of the better for us all.
      These people and their ilk are the reason our economic collapse began in the first place. Jail would be the right pace for them.

      Those French know the one way to true democracy is not to be side tracked. They were smart enough to know this in 1715. We are a slow bunch in this country.


  12. Gareth Howell
    24/04/2012 at 6:59 pm

    His humpour by-pass is so permanment he seems to have no brain, but he is acting out a character called Lord Blagger who is not allowed to have real ideas in case he gets found out!

    Knowing his creator’s intellectual skills as we all do, I find the character’s inability to delve in the least bit deeply in to anything and yet sometimes to get to the nub of the argument very quickly, rather amusing.

    Perhaps if he can create another character who is for example a radical tory, we might be allowed to see a little more, or less thought.

  13. Senex
    24/04/2012 at 8:15 pm

    Why aren’t themselves paid a salary like the other lot down the corridor?

    Take a man, his wife and eleven children. The wife cannot do paid work because looking after the children is a full time job. But does this wife have a job or a duty. Indeed the same can be said of the father, his first duty is to provide for his family and his estate. Lets say they are all seated for the evening meal and the man says to his family that he is no longer contend with doing his duty he now wants paying for it and by his family. Has he offended the dignity of his family and himself?

    A loose analogy to be sure but two components can be teased out from this: duty and dignity. Both the Monarchy and its Nobility in Parliament serve to do their duty with dignity. The Royal College of Nursing defines dignity as: Dignity is concerned with how people feel, think and behave in relation to the worth or value of themselves and others.

    The question for the Lords is if they are to receive public monies to do their duty would their dignity suffer? The short answer is yes, their dignity would be offended. Historically, the three estates of governance have performed their duties with dignity because individuals have not been paid from public monies to perform their duties.

    What is the first duty of an MP? It is to provide for their estate and family; their duty to the nation is secondary.

    The first duty of a peer is to the nation; quaint and old fashioned isn’t it, this notion of selfless service?

  14. Lord Blagger
    24/04/2012 at 8:58 pm

    Do I?

    Why is it that what you take out is the measure?

    What about the mugs who have to pay way over 2,700 a day (not a week, a day) for you?

    It’s not as if you do much. Look at the cost per amendment that succeeds. First you remove the amendments that originate from ministers, because they are just doing the bidding from else where. ie. The government not peers. Then for the small remainder, look at the number that pass and its small. Then of those look at the number overturned by the commons, and its a pathetically small number for the hundreds of millions you cost us.

    Summarizing your argument. I’m in it for the money I get, and b****r the poor b****s who have to pay the true cost.

    Why for instance are peers then talking about half a million to go away? More evidence that its money that’s the driver, and not any sense of good.

  15. MilesJSD
    25/04/2012 at 5:11 am

    I was but a little boy, and WW2 overwhelmed my and everyone’s life, more ubiquitously than any tsunami, and more lastingly damaging.
    The King George V and Queen Mary’s Jubilee mug was packed away wrapped in newspaper for safety from Luftwaffe bombing,

    and was replaced by one inscribed
    “Dig For Victory”

    which when not singing “God Save The King” in the local Church of England choir, or cowering in an Air Raid shelter listening for that same church’s bells to ring announcing the arrival of Hitler’s paratroopers and invading Armies, some of us boys did in both our front and back gardens (if we were lucky or well-governed enough to “possess (GH)” such wealth underfoot and all-around (girls were not allowed into the choir but were conscripted into such digging-for-victory i.e. growing vegetables and herbs)).

    That was a mug fit for both Purpose and purpose, in that it would help win the war against destructive and extinctional Tyranny and help each individual drinker-from-it to realise that one could survive and even still thrive when a main-meal consisted only of that mug full of hot tea and a large square British bulldog biscuit.

    So don’t be a mug:
    your task is to make the British place in the Human Race on Earth a Sustainworthy one.

    Absolutely so, not merely Relative-to-Royalty and the Royal Bankers of Shotland.

  16. Malden Capell
    25/04/2012 at 7:41 am

    Lord Blagger, if it’s a state secret how did you come to know about it?

    • Lord Blagger
      25/04/2012 at 11:06 am

      I know its a state secret because two Clerks of Parliament have signed state secrecy certificates making it a state secret. David Beamish has signed 3 for FOI requests, and his predecessor, Michael Pownell signed 1.

      • Malden Capell
        01/05/2012 at 11:00 pm

        Source, please?

  17. Senex
    25/04/2012 at 6:14 pm

    Peers that have arrived from the Commons are no strangers to the notion of receiving public monies for doing their duty. Indeed they see no reason why peers should not be paid in a similar way to their former colleagues in the Commons. So why and how, after centuries, given the mindset of Parliament did they actually achieve this? Most would say it was the Parliament Act 1911 that allowed it to happen – they would be wrong, very wrong.

    An exchange takes place in the Commons on March 22, 1911.

    The Prime Minister is being pressed by backbenchers as to how and when MPs will receive a salary plus election expenses and whether a bill will be raised to facilitate this. The Prime Minister will not give an assurance that a bill will be raised. Roll forward to August 10, 1911 and backbenchers debate a motion for the payment of member ‘salaries’. The motion is successful.

    The Parliament Act receives Royal Assent on August 18, 1911 and members are subsequently paid their ‘salaries’.

    The executive is taking monies from the Royal Treasury under the Royal Prerogative to pay its members, however take note of the dates. The motion is carried on August 10 but the Parliament Act will not receive Royal Assent until August 18. Here is a conundrum, both houses of Parliament operate on a mutually exclusive basis and neither can interfere in the business of the other. The constitutional status quo is still in place which requires Parliament to approve the payment of these salaries. The HoL cannot even if it wished to, endorse through a similar motion the payment of Commons monies at this time.

    To this day no money bill has ever been raised to bring these payments under Common Law and the Prime Minister in 1911 made it quite clear that no bill would ever be raised. Control of these monies would remain with Parliament. There are some technical issues that need resolving.

    Parliament never approved the payment of public monies to MPs and the HoL was in no position to endorse this. Under the constitutional arrangement before 1911 neither house could appropriate monies for themselves because one house does not make a Parliament. Is there contempt of the constitution now at work in the Commons? Certainly controversy exists. Are certain peers tainted by this?

    The blogs prospectus for an indirectly elected house raises its members above all of this controversy by allowing payment of salaries to peer non executive directors through a number of constituency incorporations managed by a holding company. The precedent for this is mentioned by Mr Lloyd George in opening debate on August 10, 1911 (column 1367); constituencies once payed MPs from the rates, monies other than the imperial taxes. More to the point, member privacy would be maintained under Common Law, possibly means tested to supply members with a minimum wage without it affecting their dignity.

    Ref: House of Commons (Payment of Members)
    HC Deb 22 March 1911 vol 23 cc399-400
    Payment of Members: HC Deb 10 August 1911 vol 29 cc1365-48

  18. Gareth Howell
    26/04/2012 at 8:57 am

    And look at how good the selection process was.
    1. Lord Taylor – Jailed for fraud

    From my own memory of Taylor’s failed Commons election campaign in Gloucester, as a result of racism, he subsequently became a self-selected political peer, and not from the laid down selection procedure.

    I also find the compensation suggestion for laid off /redundant peers laughable. It is very much the same as the compensation provided to paid up members of the RAC club in Pall Mall, when they sold off the motoring organization.

    As good London clubs go, it would seem this form of compensation is not so unusual then.
    What happened to the Library of 100-150 year old books at the former RCS (Royal Commonwealth Society) is another matter again.

    • maude elwes
      27/04/2012 at 10:35 am

      @Gareth Howell:

      I feel your slur toward the people of Gloucester is offensive.

      What evidence do you have for suggesting this John Taylor was not selcted as their MP down to his skin colour or race?

      He appears to me to have not been suitable for this, or, any other Parliamentary role as time proved. On account of his leaning toward a shifty character long before he was put up for election. And who is to say his selection for Tory member was not taken on the grounds of his race and not his ‘good works.’

      It has proved that the people of Cheltenham were smarter than you give them credit for. As they appear to have spotted his weakness before those who are into PC would allow themselves to question their motives.

      The good people of Gloucester are not racist because they reject a candidate who was offered up on PC grounds. It was because they didn’t feel him worthy of their cross on a ballot paper. What an insult to their judgement.

      No, what has to be learned by these politicians and their back room boys is, the public are smarter than you think.

      And how does that self-selected political peer work? Is it open to anyone who thinks they have something to offer the public from simply living an ordinary life? If so, I know a few people who may feel they are worthy of titledom. Especially as three hundred a day, part time, is on offer, along with expenses that can be fiddled as shown by Taylor. And didn’t he tell the court that all his colleagues on those red benches were at it.


      And how lightly he got off. No doubt to keep his mouth shut.

      • Lord Blagger
        27/04/2012 at 12:06 pm

        Still a Peer.

        Now, one interesting thing in the HoL accounts is that 2 bills last year orignated in the Lords.

        Puts paid to the lie that the Lords can’t do anything about getting rid of people convicted of crimes.

        Perhaps Phillip Norton can submit a bill to that effect. I put forward the text for him to copy some time ago, based on a previous bill, so the wording is going to be correct.

  19. Gareth Howell
    27/04/2012 at 8:06 am

    The effect of the Law lords reform was that the work of the highest lawyer in the country, became two jobs, if not three.

    The lord chancellor WAS chairman of the house of lords, lord chancellor.
    The job of lord chancellor has now been relegated to the HofC, and the work of presenting the interests of parliament to the rest of the world, is the responsibility of the Lord speaker. The Secretary of state for
    Constitutional affairs is another.

    The task of representing the country to the rest of the world, which Baroness speaker D’Souza is now doing so effectively, should be done by a person ELECTED by public mandate.

    That is the task of a President of the House of lords.

    Legislation for a president of the UK by public mandate should be introduced.

    the Law lords reform would come later and be much more obvious how to proceed.

    “Mon-archy” would not be affected, but the president would be elected and the monarchy not elected, a Duarchy or Demarchy.

    Democratic demi monarchy.

    It is far more sensible than a law lords reform, for which Clive has asked us to
    “watch this space”. It will be a very long
    “watch indeed, viz my conversation with the
    Prime minister in 1997!!(or 1911?)

  20. Senex
    27/04/2012 at 12:28 pm

    Gareth, when you mention the Lord Chancellor you must remember that he headed up the hierarchy of Judges. Sadly, most Law Lords will retire next year ending an era.

    There are Pretences at work in Parliament (in the Commons) at the moment and in the absence of a constitutional court it presents accountability with a problem. As an aside to have a written constitution would require a constitutional court that could reject Acts of Parliament. This facility was enshrined in the pre 1911 HoL.

    High court judges are loathe to deliver ‘judge made law’ relating to the constitution because it is so subjective. Even when it is clear they duck it or pass the buck upwards now to the Supreme Court.

    Lets say the Supreme Court was to deliver ‘judge made law’ concerning the constitution. Judges make law when law is deficient or ambiguous. Parliament picks this up and clarifies it in Acts of Parliament as necessary.

    If this ‘judge made law’ was to interfere with the Commons ability to govern the bench would be held in contempt of Parliament and the Supremes would be locked up and sent to the tower as convicted criminals. Pre 1911 the way Judges were able to comment on constitutional impropriety was to have the highest court present within the sovereignty of Parliament where they could enjoy its protection.

    The Supreme Court needs to be able to hear cases of Regina v the People and deliver ‘Judge made Law’ without fearing a Contempt of Parliament. Impossible! Parliamentary sovereignty is Supreme – why not a Parliamentary Supreme court?

    Been there done it. The Trade Unions didn’t like it.

    • Lord Blagger
      27/04/2012 at 2:39 pm

      Gareth, when you mention the Lord Chancellor you must remember that he headed up the hierarchy of Judges. Sadly, most Law Lords will retire next year ending an era.


      Same Law Lords that spent the price of a house on nice new gowns, to be worn 2-3 times a year.

      Great spending other people’s money.

      That’s without getting started on the cost of their new ‘office’.

      Great spending other people’s money.

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