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Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Plans for reform of the House of Lords will cost more than £1 billion by the end of the term of office of the first peers to be elected, according to new figures.

Labour peer Lord Lipsey, former Economics Editor of the Sunday Times - who has made calculations of the cost of the proposed shake-up - said Leader of the Commons Jack Straw refused to put a cost on the plans unveiled in a White Paper last month. This was on the grounds that it could not be worked out until Parliament decided the exact shape of the change.

However, Lord Lipsey said he has used official figures and plausible assumptions to estimate the cost at £1.092 billion..........

the cost per member of the Lords amounts to only £149,000 by comparison with £726,000 for each member of the Commons. Which would people rather their taxes went on - nurses and hospitals, teachers and schools or yet another gang of expensive politicians?".......

Mr Straw's White Paper is the third on Lords reform since Labour came to power in 1997. It calls for a slimmed down "hybrid" Upper House of 540 members ....

From the Guardian among others
He seems to be working on the assumption that the Lords 540 members X £726,000 x 4 years = £1,57 billion (we may perhaps assume slightly less per person for the Upper House). This seems credible & the government's refusal to produce different figures makes their assurances unconvincing.

This persuades me. A billion is a lot of money to keep an institution which serves no real purpose but which has been there forever. There are occasions - many occasions - when it is better to prune than to reform but we have got into a state of mind where getting rid of any aspect of government is heresy. Replace it with a written constitution & constitutional court & our liberty would be much better defended. One billion could give us 100 X-Prizes, equivalent to the one that produced Spaceship One or a Forth Bridge or 100 km of road tunnels across Britaim.

Incidentally the Commons at £726,000 x 646 MPS is £469 million a year & no great shakes either.

By comparison Holyrood, with 129 members, at £73 million a year seems to be relatively OK for once.

Clearly we should just abolish democracy altogether on cost grounds, give power to the editor of the Daily Mail and save a packet.

There might be a small fascism problem but I'm sure you've thought of that.
Defending the Lords in the name of democracy? :-)
Of course. In the absence of a truely representative voting system for the Commons the Lords is still a very necessary part of the Constitution.
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