Letter from Damien Welfare published in the Independent on 7th August 2012

If the Lords Reform Bill is dropped, it will be a travesty of democracy (report, 4th August 2012). MPs approved the Bill by a massive majority of 338. Despite this, the Prime Minister is proposing to allow himself to be held to ransom by 91 of his backbenchers.

The backbench Tories’ arguments are wrong. The primacy of the House of Commons can be secured by setting out the rules for relations between the two Houses in a “concordat”, as outlined by the all-party Joint Committee on the Bill; and by other measures.

The rebels have forgotten their own history too. Conservatives supported a democratic House in reports by Lord Home in 1978, and Lord Mackay of Clashfern in 1999; and, in their 2005 and 2010 manifestoes.

This Bill can still be saved. The Prime Minister needs to work with all parties to agree a suitable allocation of time that ensures proper debate while enabling the legislation to progress. If he will not, the issue will return in the near future. The appointed House is growing to an unsustainable size. Strengthening Parliament would benefit ordinary voters, by providing a more effective counterweight to an over-mighty Executive.


Damien Welfare

Co-ordinator, Campaign for a Democratic Upper House