The House of Lords: Where it really is a job for life

  • @oliver_wright

Unlike any other job it is virtually impossible to get sacked from being a Member of Parliament or a peer.

While MPs can at least be removed if they get sent to prison even that is not true in the House of Lords as the case of Lord Archer illustrated.

Even peers who want to stand down can’t do so under the current rules – a historical anomaly that politicians have lamentably failed to rectify.

There have been efforts to change the rules. In the House of Lords the former Liberal Democrats leader Lord Steel put forward sensible suggestions to allow peers to retire or be removed if they fail to attend or are convicted of crimes.

But these measures have been vetoed – in particular by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He fears that if some reform to the House of Lords is allowed, pressure for more fundamental change will abate.

MPs can resign and can be forced to resign if they are “detained anywhere in the British Islands or the Republic of Ireland ... for more than a year for any offence”. But lesser offences – such as unethical behaviour – are not enough.

The Government has promised to introduce a ‘right of recall’ to allow constituents to trigger a by-election but such legislation is complicated and some fear it could be misused.