Securing a lasting reform of the House of Lords

Lord Faulkner of Worcester

The government has decided to abandon its attempt to replace the House of Lords with a second house of unaccountable elected politicians.  This is good news.  What the House of Commons debated on 9 and 10 July was a bad bill which would have threatened the supremacy of the elected house, made Parliament as a whole less effective in holding the executive to account, and less representative of our diverse nation.
But whilst those of us who were opposed to Mr Clegg’s House of Lords Reform bill may be allowed a short period of celebration, it is important that its demise does not lead to the end of the debate about the future of the upper house. 
The overwhelming majority of members in the House of Lords – and large numbers in the Commons too – want to see reform now, and there is pretty good agreement on what needs to be done.
I believe that there should be:
• Arrangements to enable members of the Lords to retire permanently, so that those who rarely or never attend cease to be members
• A statutory commission, to ensure transparency, objectivity and probity in the appointment of new members
• Removal of heredity as a criterion for membership, by abolishing hereditary by-elections
• Expulsion of members convicted of serious criminal offences.
These reforms could be achieved quickly by agreement. The government’s own House of Lords Reform Bill contains provisions which could bring these about, provided the sections dealing with elections to the Lords are first removed. 
But I would prefer the government to take over the private member’s bill taken through the Lords by Lord Steel, and now in the Commons.  This is the House of Lords (Cessation of Membership) Bill.  In its earlier forms this measure had all the ingredients which I list above, and could be adapted to do the job now.

28 comments for “Securing a lasting reform of the House of Lords

  1. Dave H
    05/08/2012 at 9:07 am

    I’d like to see a clause limiting the number of former members of the Commons being appointed to the Lords, there seems to be an awful lot of them. Perhaps a limit on the number who can attend or vote on a particular Bill might fix it, given that the power of the monarch to have inconvenient peers beheaded was removed quite some time ago.

  2. Lord Blagger
    05/08/2012 at 9:45 am

    And other news, Lord Faulker has hit the comedy circuit for a third career.

    1. Arrangements to enable members of the Lords to retire permanently, so that those who rarely or never attend cease to be members

    Ah yes, the move for the big tax free payoffs to go with the tax evading ‘expenses’. The reason they define their pay as ‘expenses’ is so they don’t pay any tax on them. Just as they make sure that there ‘expenses’ aren’t subject to inspection by HMRC, and they have exempted themselves from full money laundering regulations. Forget getting HSBC to launder your drug money. What you really need is a Peer or an MP.

    2. Recent press reports indicate that the government has decided to abandon its attempt to replace the House of Lords with a second house of unaccountable elected politicians.

    Very funny. Replacing the unelected, brown nosing, political appointees with someone whose elected makes then unaccountable.

    3. Expulsion of members convicted of serious criminal offences.

    Nothing’s going to happen here. Lord Taylor promised swift action years ago. Nothing happened. Nothing will happen. Do you want a bill that you can propose? If so ask, and you can put it down as soon as you are back from holiday.

    Not one suggestion gives the electorate any say in any issue. In other words its you as dictator dictating to us. That makes you responsible, and we’re absolved.

    Remember that when there is civil war because you’ve not given oversight to government debts and let them rack up 230,000 per tax payer.

    • Lord Faulkner of Worcester
      07/08/2012 at 12:36 pm

      Dear Lord Blagger,

      Please calm down and re-read my post.

      1. Nowhere do I suggest a financial pay-off – tax-free or otherwise – for members retiring.
      2. The reason why the members who would have been elected under the terms of Mr Clegg’s bill would have been unaccountable is because they would have served for a single 15-year term, and could not have been re-elected.
      3. Lord Steel’s bill – passed by the Lords, and now in the Commons – provides for the expulsion of members convicted of serious criminal offences.


      Richard Faulkner

      • Lord Blagger
        07/08/2012 at 2:21 pm

        1. Nowhere do I suggest a financial pay-off – tax-free or otherwise – for members retiring.

        You’re advocating the Steele bill. That does.

        So who gets to be expelled?

        Archer? Nope – its not retrospective.

        Hanningfield? Nope – didn’t go over the year

        Talyor – not over a year.

        Expenses fiddlers? Nope – still in the house.

        Offering to take cash for changes to legislation – Yep still in the house.

        None of them affected by any of the changes.

        Put forward a bill. Anyone convicted of any criminal offence, to be disbarred immediately, and make it retrospective.

        So why are you trying to justify criminals with a year or less legistlating?

  3. Nazma FOURRE
    05/08/2012 at 12:09 pm

    Dear Lord Faulkner,
    I am so happy to learn that the reform of an elected body of lords has not been approved by the government. Through this measure the status of the house of Lords is thus preserved.
    Regarding the criterias for the selection of the lords by the appointment committee , I wish that the lords could propose a bill in order to allow people from the European Communities to join the House of lords.

    The actual criteria is deemed to be restricted one, allowing only candidates from Ireland and United Kingdom as well as the common wealth countries to be lords.

    God bless the United Kingdom. God save the Queen and the Lords.
    Nazma FOURRE

  4. maude elwes
    05/08/2012 at 4:58 pm

    @Lord Faulkner:

    What you are suggesting should have been practice a very long time ago. And the Steel bill is surely something that needed little dithering over.

    One of the main problems in that chamber is its propensity to cover up the failings of those in your midst. Keeping criminals on the tax payers gravy train is seriously detrimental to your reputation.

    Why do you have such a lenient view of your fellow privileged bunch whilst you throw the book at those in society who pinch a pizza? You are not keen on making scapegoats of those appointed with you for no other reason than they fit some crazy political ideology. Which just go to show how wrong that ideology is.

    Lets take a look at this person who finds herself, once again, being questioned over her judgment and trustworthiness. When such a person gets away with erring once, it only leads to bigger need to show their off the wall talent in that direction.

    This is the same person who used an illegal immigrant woman to work as her cleaner for less than the going rate. The woman is jailed and this Baroness is fined £5,000. Yet she remains in the Lords. Birds of a feather flock together, goes the old mantra.

    The Blair loves to surround himself with like minds. She was another of his wonderful choices to elevate for good deeds.

    And where was her husband in all this duplicity? Is he simply an innocent bystander who knows nothing?,_Baroness_Scotland_of_Asthal

    And why on earth did she get the name Baroness Scotland, when she was born outside the UK and has no connection whatsoever to that part of the UK? I bet the Scots feel very happy to know she carries their country name in the mire with her.

  5. Lord Blagger
    05/08/2012 at 9:21 pm

    For a start, how about any MP rejected by the electorate being banned from the Lords.

    If the electorate reject them, there is no reason to force them on the us as legislators.

  6. Twm O'r Nant
    06/08/2012 at 11:36 am

    It is easy to forget that the monarch is also
    part of a hereditary house, so where does your
    opinion leave us then?

    The Labour party is on better terms with the Democrat party of the USA, and not with the “Republican” one ,whose presidents in recent years seem more to have been enthroned than, might I say “installed”.

    It seems strange to have republicans who behave like monarchists, and it would also be strange to have an elected democratic house of Lords, with a monarch at the head of it.

    I missed the Queen’s speech this year and she had something to say on the matter. I’m only trying to be helpful, as we all are.
    I do not have any self-interest in the matter!

    The theatrical/stage perfomance of Marie Antoinette at all times of her life are not uncertainly emulated by the Royal family today.

    I would prefer a democratic nation state of the UK in the modern nation of the European Union.

    The causes of the Iraq war may well be laid not just at the feet of Rt Hon Tony Blair, the catholic republican, but also at the feet of the monarchy fearful of losing status at their political and democratic moments of greatest stress, after the general election of 2001.

    Such wars, caused by internal division, might well be avoided if the monarchy held no such sway, in the modern world, and we enjoyed a Republic.

    • 07/08/2012 at 3:23 pm

      Twm O’r Nant,

      “The Labour party is on better terms with the Democrat party of the USA, and not with the “Republican” one ,whose presidents in recent years seem more to have been enthroned than, might I say “installed”.”

      The phenonomenon is less pronounced and not as new as you suggest but it is real. Like many lessons of domestic politics anywhere this may be less true by the time the world learns it but there is an adage that has long been useful for understanding American presidential politics: “Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line”.

  7. Lord Blagger
    06/08/2012 at 1:11 pm

    Such wars, caused by internal division, might well be avoided if the monarchy held no such sway, in the modern world, and we enjoyed a Republic.


    Monarchy is an irrelevance, because its never the cause of the strife.

    If we take the UK, its clear that the government will default on its internal debt. ie. Paying out on pensions. Remember too that if you had invested in the FTSE, you would have had a pension of 380% of that paid by the state (for a median worker on 26K).

    They can’t even afford to pay the piddling percentage the deem fair.

    The state has impoverished people.

    That’s why they won’t admit to owing anything, and their response to the question, how much do you owe, is that we can/will default, so we don’t owe a penny.

    That’s going to be the trigger.

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    06/08/2012 at 4:50 pm

    Monarchy is an irrelevance, because its never the cause of the strife

    I take the oppposite view , that when the struggle for prerogative between the monarchy and parliament reached its peak, after the GE in 2001, the one thing that the military powers of the country were gearing up to, was an external showdown, to unite a thoroughly divided and resentful nation state.

    Blair had an ultimatum, and bluffed accordingly. I seem to recall that Bush, that CofE communicant from Texas, did
    the real threatening.

    Bush assisted in restoring the prerogative of the monarchy in the UK, which reached its conclusion in Cameron’s victory in 2010.

  9. MilesJSD
    07/08/2012 at 2:19 am

    Your four pointed reform looks constructive enough, Lord Faulkner,

    especially if your terms “transparency, objectivity, and probity”
    “sustainworthiness, emulable-leadership, and fitness-for-purpose in both Workplace and Lifeplace”;

    and if to the piece about “expulsion of members convicted of serious criminal offences”*

    is added
    “And public-exposure be required, as a form of ‘pillorying’, of any member failing to represent and advocate the lifesupportive-needs and affordable-hows of any individual British-subject or Class-of-subjects”.

    and this latter should also apply to both Commons Members and to Judiciary and Civil-Service members.
    It is also
    more important
    that “the demise of the bill”
    does not lead to the end of participatory-democratisation of The British People

    than it is for the participatory-democracy-usurping, and now somewhat stale,

    about the privilege-ocratic and all-too-sinecural permanent-constitutional future of the House of Lords

    to be continually stoked-up.
    The Purpose of Government needs to be
    “To provide continuously-improving governance and lifestyle-sustainworthiness enablements to all levels of The People;

    and to do this whilst continually improving the Sustainworthy Governance Skills of Parliamentary, Judiciary, and Civil-Service Members,
    and whilst egalitarianly reducing the number of human-livings each Member of each Government Power is given, or can-draw, from the Common Purse and the Common Environment both in his/her Workplace and in his/her Lifeplace.

    * (Clarify please, in the face of the possible reading
    ‘each perpetrative individual must have been convicted of multiple-crimes before her/his expulsion can be justified ) ?”

    • Lord Faulkner of Worcester
      07/08/2012 at 12:49 pm

      Thanks for your support.

      Lord Steel’s bill provides for peers to be excluded from the House if convicted of a criminal offence which is sufficiently serious to attract a sentence of one year’s imprisonment or more. This applies to conviction for offences whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.

  10. Lord Blagger
    07/08/2012 at 2:06 pm

    1. Doesn’t apply retrospectively?
    2. Why not any criminal conviction?

    You’ve had several years to pass such a law. You don’t need a Steel Bill and the whole question of getting rid of large numbers of peers to be lumped in.

    Since nothing has happened and nothing will happen with regards to getting rid of the corrupt peers, the conclusion is that you want to keep them.

    Why for example has the Lords made it state secret what Uddin and co were up to? The obvious conclusion is that they knew what was going on and did nothing about it.

  11. 07/08/2012 at 5:51 pm

    Lord Faulkner: I note that none of the reforms you actually support put YOUR seat in jeopardy.

    As for whether this whole episode is good news – well, the story so far is: painstaking work carried out by joint committee leads to absolutely nothing.
    Not exactly ‘good news’.

    • Lord Blagger
      08/08/2012 at 10:35 am

      Notice that all the Peers support a reduction in the number of Peers take the same view. They can always stop attending, stop racking up the 2,700 quid a day the cost us.

      Hypocritical at the least.

  12. Gareth Howell
    07/08/2012 at 7:34 pm

    Please calm down and re-read my post.
    Ha!Ha!Ha!Wot a larf!

    Why not any criminal conviction?
    Perhaps that was why Enoch Powell did not become a peer eh! Eh? Harrassment of his neighbour.

    When asked

    “Why he had not been ‘made a peer'” which was a damn silly question, he replied

    “How should I know?”

    which of course he did; because he had never bothered to walk up the corridor to the Lords’ lobby, and/or did not want to. The method of nomination is obvious to all.

    He may not have expressed an opinion about bicameralism, conservative that he was.

    • maude elwes
      08/08/2012 at 11:28 am

      The more I read about old Powell the more I like him.

  13. Rupert Read
    08/08/2012 at 10:07 am

    Lord Faulkner’s proposals are fine. But they are only tinkering.
    We need to set our sights higher. Here is one suggestion for how:

  14. Senex
    08/08/2012 at 11:18 am

    The throne may be empty but does it mean the regent has retired? Would you have she who must be obeyed, who rarely or never attends cease to be a member? Would you in such an interim separate church from state so that you would be free to deliver in your laws the morality of a republic and thus devalue the people?

    You seek a statutory commission to ensure transparency objectivity and probity in the appointment of new members. Then you look for honest men, are you truly of their kind? Should we give the commission a lantern to search out those who you seek?

    You seek removal of heredity as a criterion for membership, by abolishing hereditary by-elections. But Parliament has rejected Universal Suffrage in the HoL leaving only the legitimacy of suffrage. If you were a pot you would be calling the kettle black given that you have no legitimacy other than the patronage of a Prime Minister.

    You seek the Expulsion of members convicted of serious criminal offences. Then how long is your piece of string? Go to where the volumes of Common Law are stored and tell us what represents a serious offence and then bring it back to the committee stage.

    Please tell us what accredited competences you or Lord Steel of Aikwood have in matters constitutional other than you both having polished the seats of your pants on the rosy leathers for any number of years. Use your Common Sense. Change must be both practical and safe. What the Steel bill offers is merely practical with little or no consideration to what is constitutionally safe.

    • maude elwes
      08/08/2012 at 4:59 pm


      And are you implying here, in this last post, that the Throne and the hereditaries have kept us safe for the last thirty years? If you are, then you are blinkered totally. There is a collusion going on and it is not in this nations best interests.

      Systematically since the Thatcher government, we, the public, have had many important freedoms removed, our NHS diminished, our welfare insurance robbed, our economy sunk, obscene surveillance of our private lives and all kinds of politically correct nonsense spread over us as thick as marmite. To the point where we can barely breathe from it.

      If this is what you call protection then we would be far, far better off without it.

      As someone wrote on here in another thread, the royals have taken on a new meaning of Marie Antoinette. Their idiotic belief in their entitlement, with very little true royal blood in them, is a running joke. Why don’t they just take off with their money, they have enough to keep all of them in splendour for a hundred lifetimes, and let the our nation indulge itself in true democracy.

      This has become a total farce. The Lords, it appears, is racked with criminals that need serious culling. Are you suggesting we should continue to indulge this idiocy and laugh it off. Hereditaries appear to love the idea of remaining in that place of privilege whilst cocking a snook at those who are footing the bill for them.

      Maybe you will suggest that, Fergie, with the daughters either side, should make a comeback and join up with the market trader’s relative, whilst we line up to curtsey to the lot of them in a debutante’s ball. As this, according to an article a couple of days ago, is what it appears Andrew is pushing for.

      Where in the world are you coming from?

  15. Lord Blagger
    08/08/2012 at 12:01 pm

    Future generations? You’re having a laugh. They are screwed because the Lords allowed the basic government fraud to continue.

    The government is 7,000 bn in debt, not the 1,000 bn it reports.

    Government taxes are just 570 bn.

    Try getting a 13 times income mortgage, and see if your bank manager laughs.

    That’s without any other spending such as the police, the NHS, schools.

  16. Nazma FOURRE
    08/08/2012 at 10:53 pm

    Dear Lord Faulkner
    I am sure that you are blessed by the United Kingdom, and her Majesty for your courageous and intelligent suggestions to ammend the House of lords which is full of honest noble men and women.

    The House of the Lords has always contributed since the 17th Century to the destiny of the United Kingdom through a misty cloud of the House of commons which through its vain attempt has never had a concentrated sole power.

    A/ Credit for your measures
    I am sure that UK , the government and Her Majesty give you credit to maintain discipline in the House of Lords by excluding the frequent absent members and those who are convicted in serious criminal offenses.

    Your wish for a transparent, objective selecting committee for the House of the Lords show your determination to provide more transparency and objectiveness in the selection of Lords.
    2.The removal of the paragraph on the elections of the Lords in the draft reform bill, a meer formality.
    Since the proposed bill regarding the elections of the lords has turned down, there is no reason why the section found in the bill is not removed . It is just a simple formality which could also be seconded by your proposed bill to abolish the election of hereditary peers.

    2.Equal salary for the Lords in the name of democracy in Parliament
    I hope the salary of the Lords regarded as expenses would be reformed in the name of democracy in Parliament and they should be allowed salary and expenses just like the commoners.After all they are doing the same job as the commoners and should be paid accordingly.Similarly they are both engaged in the destiny of the United Kingdom.

    I hope her Majesty and the Prime Minister hear my little voice on this blog and give equal salaries to the Lords, in the name of democracy in Parliament and equal rights.

    I am sure that your proposed measures serve as a reference to any reform in the House of Commons.

    It is such a pity that the lords who are not paid as much as commoners , are wrongly targetted for being the reason behind high taxes.I am sure that commoners might roar with laughter to see lords being targetted at their places.

    Congratulations for your good job.
    God bless the United Kingdom . God save the Queen and the Lords.
    Nazma FOURRE

  17. Senex
    09/08/2012 at 8:12 pm

    Maude: the companion states that a number of people are allowed to sit on the steps of the throne including peers who left the house in 1999, Irish peers (Lord Blagger?) and the eldest child of a member of the house; lots of inequality here.

    According to David Backhouse “In the seventeenth-century world-view, peers were seen as the crown’s ‘natural counsellors’” and as such where did the King hear his council, in the Lords chamber itself?

    This is what the Steel Bill is missing.

    The present owner of the throne has more titles and honours than you can throw a stick at. It is only convention that prevents her from sitting in the house to receive its council. Should she choose to do this and the State Opening of Parliament is such an occasion all of those titles are stripped away as she becomes the equal of dukes, earls and lowly barons. There is no hierarchy in the House of Peers.

    So really all of that bling and over dressing at the State Opening of Parliament is a conceit practiced by both the Monarchy and the state to give the impression that the regent is the first amongst equals, somehow special. She IS when away from the Lords chamber itself but not when she sits in the house.

    The Steel Bill must consider the case of the regent but it does not. Somehow this is forgotten. If peers are to retire how can they be the equal of the King when his duties are for life? The Bill needs to retire the Monarchy or abandon its plans for peer retirement. Whatever the bill attempts to do it does also to the regent as an equal.

    Ref: Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords. Chapter 1 the House and its Membership. Seating in the Chamber: Steps of the Throne.
    Tory Tergiversation in the House of Lords, 1714-1760
    David Backhouse (Institute of Historical Research)

  18. Gareth Howell
    10/08/2012 at 5:40 pm

    Their idiotic belief in their entitlement, with very little true royal blood in them, is a running joke.

    My kinsman Henry V11 (Hywel Dda collaterals) did ok at the Battle of Bosworth field if you don’t mind!

    What worries me is the battle between genetics and genealogy which will become unavoidable and how much trickery will occur in the lab at some future occasion.

    Genealogists are (Bless the garter herald)
    sometimes absolutely full of bull.

    Geneticists won’t be much better!


    Irish peers (Lord Blagger?) and the eldest child of a member of the house; lots of inequality here.

    This is getting silly, but I do wonder about the excellence of Kilburn Grammar school sometimes.

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