Sunday, February 01, 2009

Corruption in the House of Lords Awards 2009

Letters From A Tory has been crunching the numbers, and discovered that those in the House of Lords have nearly as highly a developed penchant for living high on the hog (on our money) as their loathsome Commons counterparts.
Of course, if we knew that every single member of the House of Lords was spending all their time doing their duty to Parliament and the United Kingdom by working extremely hard, some of this might seem quite reasonable. Sadly this is not the case, particularly for the 59 Lords, Baronesses, Earls, Dukes and Marquesses who didn’t turn up once, not once in the entire Parliamentary year (although this minor technical glitch didn’t stop either Baroness Nicol or Lord Kilpatrick from claiming over £2,500 each in office expenses). Even Lord Beaumont turned up 104 times and he died in May last year. On that note, 29 members of the House of Lords died during the last Parliamentary year, which represented 4% of all members. Strange, but true.

So, there you have it. The House of Lords might not get the same degree of publicity or fame as the House of Commons, but that doesn’t stop the moral, decent and entirely ethical members of the House of Lords from making their lives as comfortable as possible at the taxpayers’ expense.

Do read the whole shocking litany of corruption: it will make your jaw drop.

What I would like to see, of course, is a separation of life peers and hereditories: are the life peers more inclined to feather their nests, as Ross Clarke implies?
I now realise, though, that they were staunch upholders of civility and decency compared with the mercenary toadies that have replaced them. Somehow I can't imagine the late Duke of Devonshire trying to squeeze £120,000 out of a lobbyist to help to gain an exception on business rates - not even if the roof at Chatsworth had fallen in and he had worn through the leather patches on his elbows.

As the Englishman points out, Clarke's article is not without one massive fault.
Ross Clark then spoils his argument by suggesting driectly elected Lords, as though adding more bad apples to the barrel will make it better.

The advantage of hereditary peers was that they didn't have to seek short term approval or reward. They could afford to take a long term view informed by a sense of history, and by their position of influence being inheritable they were incented to ensure stability continued so they could pass it on to their heirs.

No other system is as good, though the old Greek habit of choosing some legislators by lot comes close. What we don't want is a House of Commons 2.0.

No, we certainly do not. And Longrider—though once a believer in an elected second chamber—concurs.

I just hate them all. As I have said before, is it really so much to ask that those who would seek to rule us not be totally corrupt?

Apparently so.


Henry North London said...

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts.... absolutely

Bring back the hereditary peers and the Bishops at least they have some kind of moral compass

Thon Brocket said...

Gotta keep saying it. As long as we let them both legislate and tax, they'll keep right on with their front feet in the trough. We need a separately-elected taxing legislature (with no other powers to legislate) and a main legislature dependent on the taxers to fund legislation.

That way, there is an electoral tension between taxing and spending, which doesn't exist in the current arrangement.

julymorning said...

Thon, that's what you had in the Middle Ages, wherein the taxing body was Parliament and the main legislature was the monarch. Where, then, did it all go so wrong?...

haddock said...

"the old Greek habit of choosing some legislators by lot" has a great deal of merit.
In our system 12 men or women 'dragged in from the street' can sit in judgement and until recent times had life or death decisions to make.
A few hundred dragged in at random could decide about whether recycling bins should be left open or whether to delay rubber-stamping the next load of laws shovelled into our parliament by Brussels.

If Lords are to be thrown out for taking money to voice certain opinions surely those in receipt of EU pensions are being paid in a similar manner; i.e. paid not to ask questions about EU matters ?
If they speak against the EU they lose their pension.... just as corrupt as someone paying them to shut up and not rock the boat.

Deogolwulf said...

"Where, then, did it all go so wrong?"

Wrong? Heresy, my good man. Did you not learn your history at school? To name a couple of dates: 1649 and 1688, in which glorious years began the long road to our present freedom, first by the aid of a puritan-republican dictatorship, heralded by the daylight murder of the lawful authority, and then, a little later, by a parliamentary coup d'etat. Thereafter, with ever-greater liberal reforms and expanding suffrage, and a gradual wearing down of social authorities in the name of liberation, hope was brought to the common man by making him the stand-alone subject of a vast and arbitrary power incomparable to what had gone before. It is, as we all know, just one long happy tale of progress, down to the heavenly land in which we live today.

Thon Brocket said...


"Thon, that's what you had in the Middle Ages, wherein the taxing body was Parliament and the main legislature was the monarch. Where, then, did it all go so wrong?...

Easy one. The monarchy wasn't elected. You mightn't have called Parliament "elected", either, by today's standards of universal suffreage.

No comparison.

Thon Brocket said...

Give them the power to take money from you by force AND the power to make laws and enforce them at gunpoint, and they will fill their fucking boots.

Every fucking time. By force or by guile. In the light or in the dark. Any where. Any time.

Until you fix that, you'll fix nothing.

berenike said...

But but but. Aristocracy. Undemocratic. Old. BAD!

Mr Blair said so.

Anonymous said...