As usual, it is in the comments that the wisdom often lies. Newspaper articles and blogposts are catalysts but the review by readers is what brings the issue home, e.g. with the Meredith Kercher issue [see sidebar]. I always look for sane comments below articles.
Simon Heffer wrote an excellent piece on the Lords:
What ought to have been recognised in 1911 was that the House of Lords after that Act worked exceptionally well, both practically and constitutionally, and needed no further interference. The Parliament Act prevented the Lords from blocking money Bills and from blocking anything for more than three years.
As one commenter noted:
Time and again once elevated to the upper house and freed from the need to keep in with party bosses, peers have demonstrated their ability to consider legislation solely on its merits. I agree with Mr. Heffer that independence and ability is achieved by appointment rather than election and is crucial to an effective upper house.
Hear hear! Along with many other people, a long time back, I put my own humble suggestions on this blog:
[destruction of the lords] the road to autocracy
[house of lords] modest proposals for the restoration of same
[lords destruction bill] last obstacle to eu removed
[wales] leading the way to a house of lords
but now others appear to be putting similar and well done to them. One commenter wrote:
Before Christmas the BBC for once gave some air time to someone on the Right, Philip Blond; his piece about the Lords reform was excellent & pointed out the perils of the “conspiracy of democracy”. He proposes a House of Lords divided into three, appointment, election, & nomination. A transcript of his piece can be seen [here].
Numbers in the Lords should indeed be limited, though which government (in power) will possibly agree that, given how many favours they invariably need? The parachuting of Mandelson into the cabinet via the Lords, when he was clearly unelectable, was also a disgrace.
True and yet we can’t have it both ways. Kicked upstairs or parachuted in, there is still the JFK syndrome that once in position, can result in a different political animal to that which the PTB thought they were placing.
The point is that no review can properly be done by those in thrall to the elected government and though an appointed Lords is hardly going to get us out of the EU, it would do better than the monstrosity currently in place. Also, look at why peers were kicked upstairs in the first place – it was because they were rivals and/or had the temerity not to toe the party line.
I like the idea of having them upstairs, rather than toadies like Ashton. It is true that the quality of those placemen and women up there now though should not be frozen in perpetuity. The Augean Lords needs a thorough flushing out and let’s start over again.