Sunday, 12 June 2016

Why We Need The House of Lords

by Katie O'Flaherty

Question Time in the House of Lords
In the opinion of many, including myself, the House of Lords is an integral part of British constitution, providing essential knowledge and experience, in order to refine and improve our laws. Members of the House of Lords are able to contribute their own individual expertise in various areas, thus are able to question the decisions of the Government in a more informed manner. Much as some may argue that the members are simply there due to a false, unfounded entitlement, the vast majority hold a deep knowledge in numerous subject areas, as shown in Question Time, where members can either question ministers, or require ministers to respond to debates on topical issues. For one, this therefore means  that there is a constant body, independent of the House of Commons, checking the motives, and that all decisions are fully thought out.

Not only this, but the way that the British constitution has become the way it is today is through evolution that has led to a strong Parliament, made up of two parts in order to regulate, and make every decision the best it can be. A number of the Opposition complain as to the payrolls of members, when, in reality, only two members of the House of Lords are paid a salary; the rest are simply paid allowances of either £150 or £300 per attendance. Much as, to some, this may seem like a large amount, the recent pay rises for MPs have had a far greater effect on Parliament's budget than any of the allowances for members of the House of Lords. Thus I raise the point, just because the Government are democratically elected to their seats, that does not mean that they are entitled to permanent salaries many times larger than the allowances of the Lords. Consequently, I believe it important that we see not from a narrow minded perspective, but rather from the view that all governmental agencies need a financial review, not just the House of Lords. Therefore, it would be unfair to use this point against only the House of Lords, and should be made invalid in this debate.

Additionally, there have been a plethora of reforms, also meaning that most hereditary peers are no longer able to sit in the House of Lords. This, therefore, renders the common argument that 'they did nothing to earn their place' almost completely invalid, as, also, the vast majority are highly educated in their areas of expertise. The lack of an elective process prevents the second half of Parliament from being filled with career politicians, which would also reduce the house's independent character and relative neutrality. If the House of Lords were to be directly elected, it would also be more likely to reach a political gridlock, with members more likely to work for their own benefit rather for the greater good. 

To conclude, the House of Lords is required to maintain the balance and safety of law making in Parliament, as a form of the system of bicameral legislatures, where there are two separate governing bodies to pass the nation's legislature, which is used in the majority of stable democracies around the world. Much as it is not a perfected system, it is nonetheless an essential part of monitoring the Government, and ensuring laws are fully and properly thought out."

1 comment:

  1. You said at the beginning that "the House of Lords is an integral part of British constitution". The UK does not have a documented constitution. Therefore, could one suggest that the House of Lords merely resides under the guise of a so-called constitution while it is actually a form of governmental establishment that has been created to limit the power of elected officials and the democratic values they (are supposed to) inhabit?


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