Another thing interesting about coalition government is what is going on in the House of Lords. It’s been a long time since the governing party had a working majority there, ever since the hereditary peers were ditched.
But now, with Tory and Lib Dems combined, and with the new peers they have added, Baroness D’Souza on Lords of the Blog has sounded the alarm…
It is reliably rumoured that the Government is planning to bring in yet more coalition peers come the Autumn. It already has a working majority of approximately 38 (the numbers change from day to day due to influx of new peers) and could have a majority nearer to 80 or more. This would place it in the same position as New Labour in the House of Commons in the last Parliament.
Baroness D’Souza has at least some authority here, as the Convenor of the Crossbench peers.
The idea of a government majority in both chambers is perhaps a bit worrying. Though their noble Lord and Ladyships have always been a little rebellious, and rather difficult to actually get in Parliament from day-to-day, there is still a hardcore of peers who attend regularly, and, if present trends continue, could be relied upon by the government to ensure it always gets its way.
In some respects, it would be sweet justice were this to happen. People like me, who have long argued against the uncodified constitution we have precisely because it could lead to its “conventions” being ignored by a government that doesn’t like them, might actually start getting listened to if the so-called “revising” chamber no longer does any revising.
Of course, we could blame it all on Labour. After all, they had 13 years to do something properly about it. Now they could be squished into submission in both Houses if the coalition sticks together. Thanks, as always, go to the useless Jack Straw, long-term opponent of House of Lords reform.
Whatever happens, though, I’m willing to bet that the muscle the Lords used to flex in keeping the Labour government under control will not be as used in this Parliament.
Unless they’re trying to stop elections to the House of Lords, of course.