Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

House of Lords

House of Lords consists of 26 Anglican bishops (Lords Spiritual), 92 hereditary peers, life peers and peeresses and judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Law Lords).

There is talk of reforming House of Lords. On 10 July 2012 David Cameron’s government introduced a bill in House of Commons for reform of House of Lords. Its size was to be reduced from 826 to 450. It will be called Senate and 80% of the members will be elected. The demand for reform is from Liberal Democrats who are in coalition with David Cameron’s Conservatives. More than reform it is replacement of House of Lords with another house.

House of Lords is a unique feature of UK. It is different from upper houses of other countries. Its members are not elected. It is part of British tradition.

House of Lords should remain as it is or should be abolished. Having elected members in House of Lords does not make sense. There is no point in having members elected for one time 15-years terms.

UK is a combination of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. House of Lords represents aristocracy. If aristocracy is abolished there is no need for another house for democracy.

House of Lords had many powers which were significantly reduced in 1911 and 1949. In 1999 the number of hereditary peers was restricted to 92.

It is strange that UK wants to imitate USA which has Senate. In USA, Senate has two representatives from each state. This is done to protect the influence of small states. Continental Congresses and Congress of the Confederation were single houses. In House of Representatives the number may vary from one to 54. In Senate there is no domination of small states by large states.

There is no need for upper house in legislatures if the members are directly or indirectly elected. One directly elected house is enough. Many times upper house is used to accommodate people who cannot get elected directly.

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