LETTER : Lords who listen then vote

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Alan Watkins wrote a trenchant piece about the future of the House of Lords ("Beware, Mr Blair, of creating a new form of patronage", 14 April). I declare a very obvious interest - not recognising myself or my neighbours in the House in the description "aged party hacks".

Others will speak for or against an hereditary peerage having a role in setting public policy. As regards the appointed peers, I would only point out that this has been one way of involving in debates on public policy people from all walks of life who bring a wealth of experience and an independence of mind not always adequately captured in the Lower House. No government can rely on "winning" in the House of Lords, because even those appointed from a political background listen to argument and vote according to their consciences. Party discipline is weak, and those of us with no political affiliation take advantage of that!

It has been whispered that a referendum on which House should be abolished might produce an interesting result!

Lord Rix

Mencap

London EC1

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