Letter: Peers and pageantry
Thursday 26 November 1998
In the Queen's speech, we see major reforms to transport policy and food standards postponed, in order to abolish hereditary peers. Moreover, the P G Wodehouse lot are to be replaced with assorted recycled Strathclyde regional councillors, backroom apparatchiks and, no doubt in the fullness of Tory time, PR sleazes and fat cats.
Some years ago, I was invited to dinner in the Canadian Senate (which is entirely made up of such political retreads). They bewailed their lack of legitimacy and pointed to the example of the much more popular Lords (then taking on Mrs Thatcher).
Lords are not in the habit of submitting to party discipline; and if "the Care of the Pig" comes up for debate, there will be a peer who knows, though party hacks think pork is born in plastic wraps in Tesco's. And the Lords' scientific knowledge far outweighs that of the Commons. Transport and food policy are both science issues. The choice of two science-based reforms as sacrificial victims of the move to abolish hereditary peers is symbolic. We already have a Commons full of party faithful: by all means get rid of ancient hereditary Lords, but not to replace them with party-line yes-people.
EUAN G NISBET
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 Prince Harry leaving the armed forced to pursue conservation projects in Africa
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Seinfeld is laughing all the way to the bank: TV show generates $3.1bn in repeat fees since final episode
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East