Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Glorification rules, what?

Once more a large hooray for the Lords and a big kipper in the face of the Rt Hon Tone. The old sods have asserted that legislating against the glorification of terrorism is a pointless and damaging task. One must feel sorry for Baroness Scotland, however, whose defence suggests even she has lost faith:
"We do not believe it is acceptable that people should be allowed to make statements which glorify terrorism and thereby make it more likely that others will commit such acts,"
As feeble as it is depressing.

This begs the question, given their succes in holding up democracy and civil liberties why push to have an elected Lords at all?

Firstly, the current appointments system is a joke, the government appointments risk weighting ther Lords with too many people whose jobs are dependent on the PM and whose incentives are to vote in line with his thinking (a trend Gordon Brown will no doubt continue).

Secondly, the reason the Lords can vote against the government is their independence from it, not because they aren't responsible to the electorate. A partially or fully elected Lords, would also not be dependent on the Honours list or appointments committee for their votes and could, hopefully, vote more freely.

One obvious advantage of the Lords is their depth of experience which could potentialy be eroded if they were elected. To guard against this one could have some sort of criterion of time served in business, politics or law, although this would e difficult to formalise. The idea of longer voting cycles seems reasonable, especially if acompanied by rolling elections such as those in the US senate, where one third of the house are elected every two years. In this way, the whole house isn't rushing to grab votes at the same time.

Whatever form a future HoL takes, let's hope it continues this excellent form. Hurrah!

1 comment:

Devil's Kitchen said...


Don't forget that the Lords are also able to take a long view. Once they are there, they cannot (easily) be removed by anything other than death; thus they do not have to toe the party line.

More importantly, yes, they are a good thing because they are not answerable to the electorate. The majority of the electorate read The Sun and The Mail. They encourage the knee-jerk reactions and attacks on our liberties.

The fact that they do not have to answer to the electorate in not the sole reason that they have done such stirling work, but it is a very large part of it.


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