Gale's View - 23/05/2018
May 23rd 2018
The antics of the Upper House of Parliament during the past few weeks have, surely, been unacceptable in a mature democracy. We in the Lower House have had to watch as the House of Lords has given succour to those with whom we are seeking to negotiate within the twenty-seven remaining countries of the European Union. By seeking to undermine the “Brexit Bill” passed by a majority of the elected House of Commons they have weakened the position of the United Kingdom and sought to frustrate the will of the British people as expressed in the referendum. Additionally, they have endeavoured to overturn the majority of the Commons and to curtail the freedom of the Press by trying to introduce a “Leveson Mark Two” inquiry through the back door - or the Peers` entrance – whichever way you care to look at it.
Notwithstanding the synthetic outrage from the tabloid media following the creation of a handful of new Peers the fact is that the Labour benches and the Liberal Democrats, whose representation vastly outnumbers any sensible proportion of their numbers in the House of Commons, have almost a two-to-one majority in the Upper House. That means that rather than acting as a responsible revising chamber they can and do make party-political mischief at will. The time has surely come, therefore, to elevate not a smattering but an avalanche of new Conservatives to the Lords.
There must, though, be one pre-requisite: All new Peers must give clear undertakings that they will vote for radical reform of our democratic institutions. That might mean not simply the abolition of their own House but of the Commons as well.
I have made this case before but let me try again. Is it not time to create four national parliaments representing England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, each with its own First Minister and dealing with all parochial matters from Health and Education though Social Services and Culture, Media and Sports to the Environment and Planning with powers to raise `local` national taxation to pay for the services that people want and value?
To maintain the union of the United Kingdom it would then be possible to elect a Senate, on the basis of two members from each County in the British Isles irrespective of their size, to preside over decisions relating solely to Foreign Policy, Defence and the macro-taxation required to pay for those necessities. The Senate would generate the Prime Minister of the still United Kingdom from within its ranks and the Monarch would remain as the unelected and constitutional Head of State. Why the latter? Because, as the events of the past weekend have demonstrated, the Monarchy does a better job of promoting Britain than any politician ever will and represents a very good return on a very modest investment for UK Ltd.
I have listened to may expressions of reasons why my proposition “could not be done” or “will not work”. Shaving away the opinions of those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, though, I remain to be convinced that there is any good reason why the time is not right not merely to tinker around the edges with reforms but to take a bold and imaginative approach to the need to bring our democratic processes into the twenty-first century and beyond.