Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Lords

Thomas Rowlandson & Augustus Charles Pugin: The House of LordsThe past month was a month of apparent turbulence for the House of Lords, as it was covered at this weblog.

Just recently, the British Prime Minister apparently withdrew support of reform plans. So The Independent reports. It is quite telling though that the same news report describes a “reform” that includes ejecting the hereditary peers as “limited reform.”

Peter Hitchens followed up his previous posts with a Mail on Sunday column last month.

Bruce Anderson gives his thoughts, as he categorizes the positions on the issue as sentamentalist, restrainer, and federalist.

Mr. Anderson seems to think that restraining the House of Commons needs a democratically elected Upper House to achieve that. Given the democratist-absolutist sentiment under which we unfortunately live, he may have a big point. However, two democratically elected chambers never really restrain democracy itself, and as the past century has shown us, two democratically elected chambers in the federal legislature of those United States hasn't impressively restrained government power.

We need to restrain democracy. Here is where a lot of debaters in the Lords reform debate get it right. They speak up against tyranny of the majority. Unfortunately, they rather quickly fall off, apparently most worried about maintaining the supremacy or primacy of the elected house. Bertrand de Jouvenel wrote many years ago that the House of Lords was reduced to a debating club in 1911. It seems many want to keep it that way.

Seemingly, they also want to get rid of the last of the hereditary peers. Some even do so after, correctly, having just previously spoken up for good aspects of hereditary.

Why do they want to get rid of hereditary? They may privately be in support of the hereditary peers, but perhaps careerism or not wanting to take this particular battle makes them go with the flow and throw them out. Whatever their reasons may be, it is not particularly heroic.

A hybrid house has been put forward in the debate.

Even Rafal Heydel-Mankoo is apparently in favor of banishing the hereditaries, with a hybrid house with no hereditary component. The three equally large components would be: electees, political appointees, and civil society appointees.

Over at Res Publica's blog, Dwayne Menezes argued for hereditary peerage about one and a half years ago (in two parts). Mr. Menezes also had a proposal for a hybrid house, with three equally large components; hereditary peers and bishops, political appointees, and civil society appointees.

Reform of the House of Lords is needed. A hybrid house may be what there should be, although yours truly has great sympathy for more heredity and tradition than one third, but – for sure – eviction of the hereditary peers is not the way to go.

No comments: