Well, it’s “lamentable” in the sense that I felt like crying when I read his article in the Observer today. My first reaction was: “Shut up, why don’t you?” It is so frustrating to have a former Liberal party leader arguing against the coalitions’ Lords reform package.
But then you read through Steel’s arguments and you see that his position is built on sand.
Lord Tyler brilliantly puts the opposite view here.
Let’s take Lord Steel’s specific points:
Yet its proponents cannot have considered what would happen if the votes of the future 20% unelected were outrageously to sway a matter against the elected majority in both houses.
But the Parliament Act will remain in place, ensuring the supremacy of the Commons. That has been made clear.
Increasing numbers of MPs are also recognising the dangers of an elected upper house undermining the primacy of the House of Commons, and of having elected senators (with a 15-year tenure as proposed), possibly of different political parties, wandering about their constituencies claiming, correctly, that they too have a mandate.
The Second Chamber members’ constituencies will be much larger than Commons MPs’ constituencies. They will have about half a million voters. So the situation will be rather like MEPs visa vis MPs at the moment. The focus on the much smaller Commons constituencies will still naturally come from the Commons MP, simply because they will have that one area to focus one, while the Second Chamber member will have an area five times as large to represent. The issue of, perhaps, duplicating case work can easily managed through the convention of the good manners of communication. In any case, what’s wrong with a bit of healthy competition? It happens in all other walks of life.
The public has not yet woken to the fact that a full-time salaried house is going to be a lot more expensive than the present, part-time, unpaid one.
I cannot believe – simply cannot believe – that a former Liberal party leader is telling us that we can’t have democracy because it is too expensive!
What is rather annoying is that David Steel keeps going on about his bill. David, your bill is history. Get over it!Tweet