As an MP, I attend the ‘Houses’ of Parliament. My particular House, is of course the ‘House’ of Commons. Down the corridor equidistant from Central Lobby resides the ‘House’ of Lords, the other part of your legislature in the UK. We MPs refer to it as ‘the other place’ and a more otherworldly place you are unlikely to observe.
This week, this bloated House was given another 30 members at the cost of £1.26 million, taking its membership up to 785. The Chinese National People’s Congress is now the only legislature in the world that has more members. Like the People’s Congress it is similarly unelected, though the People’s Congress can at least claim it might be representative of some sort of constituency.
And who are these people who inhabit this gold encrusted, red cushioned preserve? Well, they are people appointed by your Prime Minister as nominated from lists drawn up by party leaders. That means that there are a liberal sprinkling of former MPs seeking a cosy retirement, there are some local worthies and party apparatchiks but crucially, and most importantly, there are many, many millionaires who have given significant donations to the UK political parties. This week’s list, for example, contributed some £1.5million to the UK parties. There you will find major Labour donor Sir William Haughy. He will be voting on important amendments on laws that will affect you with Sir Anthony Bamford and Howard Leigh, both Tory donors and Tory supporters. This is a place of elitism and privilege and it has more millionaires per square inch than the Chelsea changing room.
The only qualification for amending, for voting on and shaping the legislature of your country these people possess seems to be the ability to put large amount of money into the coffers of the Labour and Conservative parties. No one has voted for them and they cannot be put out of office by you – a constituent and elector.
This is serious. This large unelected, crony stuffed, donor filled preserve decides the laws of the land. It is reckoned that by the end of this Parliament there may be 1000 Lords and if the rate of new appointments goes on it is possible that there may even be 2000 by the end of the next Parliament. This compares with 650 MPs who take the bother to stand for election and people vote for.
Every attempt at reforming the House of Lords has failed, usually by Conservatives who have a peculiar aversion to second chamber elections. There is no prospect of Lords Reform as we go forward, save one. An independent Scottish Parliament, decided by the Scottish people designed to serve the people who live and work here.
There we will observe the principle of democracy by securing a Parliament elected by the Scottish people.
This is Pete’s column for the Blairgowrie Advertiser