“Out of date, undemocratic and too costly” was how the House of Lords, the second chamber of the London Westminster Parliament, was described during a discussion held at the recent Brechin Branch meeting of the SNP.
The subject was prompted by Gordon Hill who was appalled to learn the cost of running this law-making body was in the region of £120 million annually, a sum that does not include capital expenditure.
None of its 770 plus members is democratically elected and most are appointed at the behest of the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Labour and Liberal Democrat Parties. There are still over 90 hereditary peers sitting in the chamber as a consequence of birth.
Jim Houston emphasised that, along with the House of Commons, the Lords was responsible for producing and altering the laws of the land, noted that it was the only such chamber in any democratic country known to him that was un-elected. He continued: “This legislature, an enormous second chamber, allows convicted criminals to sit on its benches to be part of the law-making process. As far as I am aware this is totally unheard of in any democratic country.”
Retired businessman, David Smart, said that any member of the Lords can make an appearance - no matter how brief – to earn £300 a day plus expenses. He added: “It is known that certain members walk in and then out of that chamber to claim their money. That is not what democracy is about and the House of Lords would have no place in an independent Scotland.”
David was also unimpressed by number of former elected members to the House of Commons being ‘raised’ to the Lords to serve as ‘noble lords’. He felt that this was no more than a tool rewarding MPs for their support of party.
All present were unanimous in supporting Stewart Mowatt’s call for the immediate removal or, at least, radical reconstruction of the very expensive and outdated House of Lords.