Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Lords ‘Clocking In’ by Nick Clegg MP

Writing in the Daily Mirror this week in response to their story about Lord Hanningfield, Nick Clegg said:

A big part of the problem is that, right now, a place in the House of Lords amounts to a job for life. Unelected peers don’t need to seek voters’ consent. Our Parliament should be the envy of the world: a modern, transparent and democratic institution. Instead it’s a relic from the 17th Century.

That’s why last year the Liberal Democrats tried to drag the House of Lords into the 21st Century. We pushed to introduce elections for the Lords, rather than peers simply being appointed by party leaders as they are now. It would be far better to have Lords who have to earn the support of voters and who are answerable to the people.

Elected Lords wouldn’t be the same as MPs. For example the elections could be at different times and peers would serve for a longer period: we don’t want the Lords turning into a mirror image of the Commons. But the basic principle of democracy would be the same: anyone who makes the laws of the land would be chosen by the people who have to obey those laws.

To most people that sounds like a no brainer. But not in Westminster, where change is viewed with deep hostility and vested interests loom large. Despite getting our reforms part of the way through parliament, we were blocked.