Blocking by the Lords will hasten reform of the House

May 15, 2015 9:00 am

Earlier this week, my colleague Oliver Cardinali suggested the General Election had been akin to the ‘Red Wedding’ from the Game of Thrones. And that the Conservative victory could give rise to greater militancy from Labour and Liberal Democrat peers eager to delay, stifle and prevent the Government’s legislative agenda.

There have since been numerous comments of a similar ilk and reports in the national newspapers that peers are already looking at how they can torpedo Conservative legislation.

This might be the best form opposition open to Labour and Lib Dems. The latter have been shorn of nearly all their MPs, while the former looks likely to be inward facing for the coming months as it both elects its new leader and determines how best to recover from a defeat made all the more crushing by its unexpectedness.

But the unintended consequence of House of Lords militancy could well be to reignite the debate over the reform of the upper chamber. And this time, it could reach critical mass.

There have been many attempts to reform the Lords over the years, but it’s easy to imagine the public getting behind a push for constitutional overhaul if the legislation of a majority government, which also won the largest percentage of the popular vote, is log-jammed by unelected peers.

The numbers game in the Lords will continue to make it difficult to push through reform. But the opposition parties will have to judge whether short term use of their numerical advantage is worth risking their long-term influence.

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