The House of Lords has caused utter outrage throughout the country in recent days. Their position on Brexit and their undermining of the government’s progress is nothing but embarrassing for democracy and painfully irritating for the Brexit negotiations. However, the reason that the House of Lords are behaving out of character this time, is because of Brexit, and Tony Blair is the reason as to why legislation is struggling to pass through.
The government has suffered four Brexit vote defeats in the House of Lords. One of the votes included the decision to remove the official exit date from the European Union from legislation. It is a major setback for the government, as the House of Lords is appearing to not only delay Brexit, but are attempting to eliminate the whole process.
There is no doubt that the majority of members in the upper chamber of the UK parliament voted for Remain in the EU referendum in 2016, but the main issue is the fact that multiple lords have undermined the people’s will.
A lot of people do not truly understand the actual function and reasoning of the House of Lords. It differs significantly to that of any other upper chamber in the world, and is nothing like the Senate in the USA. Their main function is to amend legislation in fine detail, and not to stop the government from ruling the country. A tradition is that if they block a piece of legislation, which then returned to the House of Commons for MP’s to have another vote and is approved once again, that they out of courtesy approve of the legislation.
If we observe history, it is clear to see that Tony Blair is the reason as to why all of this mayhem is happening. In 1999 the Labour government decided to reform the House of Lords by removing all of the Hereditary Peers, except 92. This then allowed Tony Blair to shift in over 300 Labour Peers, which of course gave the Labour government a majority in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
Unlike MP’s in the House of Commons, the Lords are not an elected chamber which therefore means once you are installed into the chamber, you could remain there for another 50 years. This is not only causing an overflow of Lords, as far more Lords are installed than Lords dying or resigning each year, but it is also a nightmare for any government that is not the Labour Party.
Everyone welcomed Tony Blair’s reforms as the Lords were indeed “out of touch” with the public, but it was not helpful to simply shoe in 300 members of your own party. Brexit has not been the only problem for the government, economic reforms and the bedroom tax was also delayed by a significant amount in the coalition government.
So what’s the solution?
The House of Lords must either WAKE UP and realise that the majority of people in this country want to leave the EU and help the government. However, that is very unlikely, and so an idea that is being discussed at the moment is to have an elected upper chamber, still made up of Peers. This would eliminate Tony Blair’s biased reforms, as well as ensuring the Lords appears democratic. Whether these two suggestions will ever happen is a different matter, but SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE!