By Tim Montgomerie
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The above findings come from today's Times (£).
The newspaper sent questions to all 789 voting members of the Upper House and 310 responded.
The results confirm widespread opposition to Coalition plans to introduce democracy to Britain's Upper House.
Even many of Nick Clegg’s own peers are opposed to his plans. 46% of Liberal Democrat members of the Lords oppose "a large elected element" and a majority (54%) believe that "it would be unconstitutional to use the Parliament Act."
Interestingly someone close to Theresa May appears to have been briefing. The Home Secretary is reported as being concerned that any trench warfare with the Lords on reforming the upper house will jeopardise the Coalition's bread and butter business. Mrs May is already smarting from Lib Dem peers voting down her police chiefs legislation.
The newspaper goes on to quote various peers who oppose the Coalition's plans:
- Lord Howe of Aberavon: “All three party leaders in the last election declared themselves in favour of transforming the Lords by requiring most, if not all, of its members to be elected. But not one of them has suggested that this change would improve the diverse, independent and largely expert composition of the Lords as it now is. Nor can they point to a single fault that would be corrected by this change.”
- Lord Pannick: “We don’t elect everyone who performs an important role. We don’t elect the Lord Chief Justice, we don’t elect judges. If you elect the House of Lords it’s going to be more assertive, it’s not going to back down. It’s going to say, we have a better mandate than you. There’s going to be a constitutional dispute.”
- The Right Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool: “The second chamber should consist of the elders of society who, from their experience and expertise, can shape legislation with its final work coming from the elected House. The political class, important though it is, forms too narrow a base from which to draw the membership of the Upper House. It does not provide the necessary experience so vital to the task of amending legislation.”