Letter: After the Lords
Wednesday 10 June 1998
The hereditary House of Lords has a constitutional basis, however dim and distant, in the old hierarchy of monarchy and aristocracy. Because this basis remained intact the Lords were able - just about - to absorb the creation of life peers. However an entirely appointed second chamber such as the Government now proposes would have no constitutional or moral justification at all.
Since the hereditary principle has had its day, the only defensible basis for a second chamber now is direct election. Better still, we need a chamber detached from the politics and timescale of the House of Commons. It should be elected for a fixed term of five or seven years and by proportional representation, a principle which the Government has already conceded by implication when it talks about rough balance between Labour and Tory peers in an appointed House of Lords.
Of course such an elected chamber would have to be given real powers. There is scant chance that any government - especially the present one - or the Commons would agree to that, so it looks as though the basic issues of principle, which are really very simple, will continue to be dodged.
game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers
North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama
Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Lucy Hawking: Stephen Hawking's daughter writes impassioned open letter to Katie Hopkins about rights of disabled people
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 3 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
- 4 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer
Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to join show
X-Men Apocalypse: First look at Jubilee and Jean Grey played by Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner
American Horror Story: Hotel Angela Bassett set to make 'lots of trouble' with Lady Gaga in season 5
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 4 - review: Sansa is in danger of becoming another footnote in Westeros' bloody history
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils