LETTER: Power to the House of Lords: Enoch's dilemma

Share
Related Topics
From Mr Philip D. Belben

Sir: Your leading article "Ermine in the gloaming" (10 May) jumps upon an old and very rickety bandwagon with the statement: "The anachronism of hereditary membership should be abolished." In reply, I would maintain that the hereditary peerage is the most democratic institution in Parliament today.

Democracy is not about voting; it has even less to do with elections. Democracy is the situation in which the wishes of the people are taken into full account in the process of decision-making through which the country is governed.

A hundred years ago, and even 50 years ago, there was ample justification for regarding the hereditary peerage as both undemocratic and anachronistic. The hereditary peers were truly aristocrats: the members of the ruling families to whom fell the privilege of actually ruling. This state of affairs, like so many aspects of British culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries, was destroyed in the Second World War.

The result is the two modern Houses: The Commons, where almost every member is a politician - someone who, in standing for election, immediately shows himself or herself to be of a quite different mentality from the man or woman in the street - is therefore not truly representative of the people. And the Lords, where there are, admittedly, politicians, and bishops, and lawyers, and chevaliers d'industrie, and even aristocrats; but where perhaps half the seats are occupied by hereditary peers who belong to the true democratic assembly of Great Britain: ordinary people who by an accident of ancestry happen to have inherited a seat in Parliament.

Yes, there should be reform. Perhaps the rules of inheritance of such title should be changed. But it must not be ignored that it is among the hereditary peers that the true voice of the British people is heard in Parliament. And long may it continue.

Yours faithfully,

PHILIP D. BELBEN

Coalville, Leicestershire

10 May

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS2 Teacher

£105 - £120 per day + Expenses: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randstad Educat...

German & French Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are curren...

Experienced Cover Supervisors Needed

£55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education have cover s...

**** Calling All NQT's ****

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The EU must take more responsibility for the migrants risking their lives to reach Italy

Benjamin Ward
The view from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh  

Scottish independence: Why I can't wait to leave London and live in a free, independent Scotland

Yannis Baboulias
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week