Sunday, July 01, 2012

Lord Carlile demolishes House of Lords Bill

Lord Carlile of Berriew is the best mind on the Liberal Democrat benches - in both Houses of Parliament. He was MP for Montgomeryshire from 1983 to 1997. He was also my next door neighbour throughout that period. I have grown to know him well. But its a coincidence that Alex and I have found ourselves in much agreement since I was elected Montgomeryshire MP two years ago. We work closely together in our opposition to the desecration of mid Wales with wind farms and in opposition to the legalisation of assisted suicide. He is a man of great wisdom who should be listened to.

In today's Mail on Sunday, Lord Carlile has written a thunderous denunciation of the Gov'ts proposals to reform the House of Lords. He argues as always with logic.  I know that Liberal Democrats throughout Britain will be stunned by the forcefulness of his intervention. Some quotes from his article should be repeated over and over again. And listened to. Its the voice of reason, experience and a brilliant mind.

Lord Carlile says "I cannot support....a shambolic, ill-conceived and politically naive venture. It will diminish Parliament, produce poorer laws and deprive the country of a remarkable and expert House.."  He goes on .."We should be proud of something that works well for us. Under the abolition proposals, all of it is to be trashed in the name of a false view of what is democratic......the public would barely have a say in the choice of the elected members of the new House of Lords. The selection of regional list candidates would be subject only to internal party procedures, potentially decided in the tribal atmosphere of party committees, a recipe for forms of demagoguery, corruption and false influence...." And then he says of the new Lords.."They would challenge the authority of the Commons at every stage - and why not, if they were elected. This is a recipe for constitutional chaos." This is a total demolition job.

I also watched Lord Strathclyde outlining his support for the proposals to Andrew Neil at lunchtime.  Couldn't make up my mind whether his enthusiasm for how well the current House of Lords works was greater or lesser than his enthusiasm for its abolition and replacement by the new proposals.


I AM A ROBOT said...

In your first two paragraphs you puffed up the good Lord to bursting point . . . . and then he let you down. His comments sound more like a rant than a reason.
"... the public would barely have a say in the choice of the elected members of the new House of Lords," so says the wise Lord. Remind me Glyn, what say do I have in the choice of who sits in the House of Lords today.

Anonymous said...

Two different Lords, Carlisle however is somebody I really respect.

I think his comments about the Lords and expertise would be spot on if this was argued say 15yrs ago. Back then I would be against an elected HoL as it gives us a big group of experts. This is no longer the case as governments (naturally) have put politicians into the 'other place'. And we saw with the Students Fees how ridiculously partisan it can be (sleeping in Parliament). Over time it can only get more political as Blair and Cameron have showed.

I don't know if I'm right Glyn but 20% will not be elected. How will these be appointed then? are these placed by the PM?. If so, this may be a way of getting experts in.
Just for reference Glyn- the Irish upper house is the model I'd like to see. Some are elected however others are appointed by the PM and Irish Universities which obviously allow experts to come in. I really like this (particularly the Uni one).

The next he says about it will feel that it can challenge the commons. Firstly I think this is what the upper chamber should do. However I understand his concerns. HOWEVER as I have read it, elections to the House of Lords will be over a number of years- it will come in gradually. So we won't get 300 new Lords in one go, we may get 50, then another 50. And as they are only elected every 10yrs that same pattern will continue. This therefore doesn't give an 'entire house' a mandate, instead only a small proportion of them.
And this will continue for the whole life of the Lords as elections are held every X years.

This is the piece of legislation I never thought of, and to Cleggs credit it is very clever. However I would like to see the years reduce from 10 (that's just far too long to be accountable).

Finally he is right about the regional list. It puts a lot of power in the party management. This therefore should be looked at.
However ultimately it is democratic and so if the people of the North East want a Labour candidate then we have to accept that!.

Many would suggest that having a LD government is stupid. However if the people decide that then we have to accept it- just like the Tories had to accept it!

But seriously Glyn you have to back it - it was in the Tory manifesto!