Tag: David Cameron

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.

Riots in England

The riots that began in London and spread to other cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Salford and Wolverhampton have exposed the ugly side of England. There was arson, loot, robbery and vandalism. Masked marauders rampaged. Houses, shops and vehicles were set ablaze. There was looting of shops, not all by criminal gangs. Some parents sat in cars outside the shops and sent their sons to loot. Police were attacked. Firemen who went to douse fires were attacked. In London more than 560 were arrested and there was no place in prisons. England had not seen anything like this for many decades.

Various reasons are given. Some say poverty, unemployment and economic deprivation are reasons for the looting and arson. Some blame cut in welfare measures and closing of youth centres. Unemployment benefit was cut and simmering discontent has come to the surface. Some say reduction in police force left it unprepared to face the rioters.

William Dalrymple said England has a rich tradition of rioting and thuggery. In the 16th century a French ambassador had complained of riots, extortion and robbery. England used to send its criminals to India. Now there is no empire and criminals remain in the country.

I do not know how many criminals England sent to India. England sent most of its criminals to Australia. Before that it sent its criminals to America. The criminals who landed in Australia in 1788 became its founders. In India the British sent long term prisoners to Andaman. England has Pitcairn Islands and it can send its prisoners there.

UK’s PM David Cameron and London’s Mayor Boris Johnson had to cut short their holidays and return to London. Cameron spoke of tough action against rioters. He attributed looting by young boys to lack of proper parenting and proper upbringing. He said those who are old enough to commit crime are old enough to face action. Boris Johnson was heckled. Someone said “You are too late.” Someone asked “Where were you?”

There is criticism of soft policing. There is demand for using water cannons, cage charges, tear gas shells, rubber bullets and tasers. Cameron has allowed use of rubber bullets. Curfew should have been imposed in London during the first night of riots. It is not imposed anywhere and criminals have a free run. Police have released photos of criminals and asked people to identify them.

Someone wanted the government to focus on London instead of bombing Libya. Someone wanted troops in Afghanistan and Libya recalled and blamed spending of money on useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The criminals who looted used social media sites such as Facebook and Blackberry Messenger and there is a demand to ban them. However banning something because criminals used them is unreasonable. Those who used them should be caught and punished. Some used social media sites to gather and clean the city.

London is host to Olympics 2012. There is enough time for London to beef up its security. However the riots have called into question the wisdom of hosting sporting events that cost billions while ignoring a large section of people.