The Right Coast

December 08, 2005
The House of Lords
By Mike Rappaport

An extremely interesting piece by Michael Barone on the House of Lords in Britain. Apparently, due to the reforms of Tony Blair, reducing the number of Hereditary Peers with the right to vote to 92, the House of Lords has now become more willing and more able to exercise their power to delay legislation in England. As a result, this has given significant power to the Life Peers.

As Barone says:

Blair's reforms meant that the 92 hereditary peers with a vote can easily be outvoted by the life peers, whose titles are not hereditary. Life peers are nominated by all three of the political parties—Labor, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats—and others without party ties are nominated as well. They tend to be people who have won distinction in many walks of life—a pretty impressive bunch, actually. Also, in the reformed House of Lords, no party has a majority, and probably no party ever will. There are enough Conservative and Lib Dem peers now to outvote the Laborites, and a substantial number of peers are "cross-benchers," which means that they accept the discipline of no party.
This reform strikes me as quite attractive for Britain. While I prefer the kind of checks and balances we have in the United States, the British system gives tremendous power to the majority party in the Commons and this is one of the few checks on that authority.