Older and wiser perspectives for the House of Lords

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Lord Sudeley has written this admirable article The Lords Spirital, Temporal – and invaluable for the Quarterly Review. It is a call for the return of the House of Lords with the gradual reinstatement of hereditaries. He makes the following points:

  • we are justly proud of how the House of Lords, sometimes described as a Council of Barons, gave us those famous articles of Magna Carta which provided the foundations of our modern justice – such as never to sell or deny justice, and insistence on trial by jury instead of ordeal to ensure the due process of law
  • Blair used his Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Laing, to propose to the then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, Lord Cranbourne (now Lord Salisbury) that 92 of the hereditaries should be temporarily spared while the rest could sent down the river – and Cranbourne accepted
  • the conditions and causes through which in 1999 Blair was helped to remove most of the hereditaries:
  1. class hatred
  2. the absence in our schools of proper teaching of British history, especially of the Middle Ages which were so crucial to our constitutional development.

A good start about the reinstatement of hereditary peers would be debates in both Houses on the deception practiced on the hereditaries by the Cranborne deal, which left most of us without our natural role in the legislature, and Britain dangerously deprived of its centuries-old constitutional stability.

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