Cameron prefers ornamental Lords

Written By: - Date published: 9:36 am, October 28th, 2015 - 15 comments
Categories: uk politics - Tags: , , ,

During his most recent election campaign British PM David Cameron promised not to cut child tax credits. That promise was a lie – as of four days ago:

Tax credits cuts ‘will leave key workers up to £12,000 poorer by 2020’

Research reveals impact of cuts on public sector staff, including teaching assistants, community and childcare workers

Teaching assistants, social workers and other key public sector workers could lose more than £1,500 a year as a result of controversial government cuts to working tax credits, according to calculations by the public sector workers union Unison. …

However, in a significant political upset, The House of Lords opposed the measure!

Peers vote to delay tax credit cuts and to protect those who lose out

George Osborne, the chancellor, has signalled that the government is going to partially back down over tax credits after peers inflicted a double defeat on the government, voting for amendments to delay implementation of the tax credit cuts until ministers have produced a scheme for “full transitional protection” for those who will lose out.

I don’t have any stats on how often The Lords have opposed a Tory government, but this is a major political development for Britain. David Cameron certainly seems to think so:

Government sets up constitutional review after Lords tax credits defeat

Lord Strathclyde will chair ‘rapid review’ of relationship between two houses of parliament ordered by David Cameron

A review of how MPs can be given the “decisive role” over key financial decisions has been set up following the government’s Lords defeat over plans to cut tax credits.

A No 10 spokesman said: “The government is setting up a review to examine how to protect the ability of elected governments to secure their business in parliament.

“The review would consider in particular how to secure the decisive role of the elected House of Commons in relation to (i) its primacy on financial matters and (ii) secondary legislation. …

Cameron obviously finds the constitutional checks and balances of a second house just a bit too inconvenient when they actually choose to exercise their power. So he’s going to gut their ability to do so. Cameron obviously prefers his Lords to be ornamental.

15 comments on “Cameron prefers ornamental Lords”

  1. dukeofurl 1

    Virtually all the Lords are now appointed rather than hereditary but its a significant challenge of a fiscal matter which hasnt happened in a long long time.

    • Tracey 1.1

      Lord Archer gets a vote?

      Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician. Before becoming an author, Archer was a Member of Parliament (1969–74), but resigned over a financial scandal which left him almost bankrupt.[2] Later, after a revival of his fortunes from the royalties of his best-selling novels, he became deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–86) before resigning after another scandal, which would lead to the end of his career in elected office.[3] He was made a life peer in 1992. His political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice, which followed his second resignation.

  2. Ad 2

    Cameron gutting Lords, Key changing the flag.
    Who’d thought the Tories would elect Republican Prime Ministers in?

    • dukeofurl 2.1

      Any changes would have to be passed in the Lords as well. I dont think he has a big enough majority in commons to pass this let alone Lords.
      The problem with numbers in the Lords can be fixed by more appointments, but strangely THAT never was a problem when all hereditary lords could vote.

      Maybe I should claim my fiefdom and remind the Eton toff about his election promises.

  3. As one commentator put it “how much can we [the tory party] hammer the weak and disabled and drive people into destitution and how much will polite society allow us to do it”. Se see this with various laws and tax breaks coming out of the republican congress in the US. Taking from the poor and giving to the rich, under the guise of becoming ‘more efficient’.

  4. Tracey 4

    When Tories are being shown up by Lords for understanding the plight of the vulnerable….

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      Most are party political appointees these days, apart from a small handful of hereditary peers.

      Some comments say hardly anything sent from the Commons ( part from Budget) has been passed unchanged since May election.

  5. dukeofurl 5

    To top it all off Cameron has been fiddling with voter regimentation measures as well

    “The Government on Tuesday narrowly avoided yet another damaging defeat in the Lords.
    Peers were attempting to torpedo legal changes to the system of voter registration that would have damaged Mr Cameron’s upcoming review of constituency boundaries.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/11956879/Tax-credits-cuts-George-Osborne-defeated-by-House-of-Lords-live.html

    They are being too clever by half, using a shortcut method to get the tax credit changes even through the commons

    “Instead, Osborne and co did something sneaky, pushing through the tax credit cuts by some arcane statutory instrument when they should have had a Bill, which could have been properly debated and amended. But they didn’t want a Bill that could be scrutinised, did they? Another own goal. The Lords cannot vote against financial legislation, but they can – at a pinch – vote down a statutory instrument. Which they did.”- Allison Pearson, Torygraph

  6. DS 6

    The Lords full stop ought to be abolished. It’s a combination of residual hereditary privilege, theocratic holdovers, and Westminster patronage. And to be fair to Cameron, they have been ornamental since 1910.

    Did the Lords do a good thing here? Of course. Doesn’t change what they are, or that for every “good” decision the Lords make, they make a dozen stupid ones. Let things stand or fall with the Commons – and if the Commons pass something you don’t like, vote to change the government. It’s why elections exist.

    • Liam 6.1

      They are called “Lords” but it’s basically an appointed chamber of senators excepting the 70 hereditary peers, and the bishops. Their job is to scrutinize legislation, and amend it. Chamber of Sober Second Thought. There are some incredible people in the Lords, they get a lot of flack. Good on them for doing their job and holding a Tory government to account, they are all that stands between DC and neoliberal wet dream. Elections don’t necessarily confer legitimacy, especially considering the winner takes all nature of FPP in the United Kingdom. Those Lords who sit on the cross bench , for Labour, and the Lib Dems are the only people with the real power to stand up for the 60% of people who voted against the Tories. Unicameral winner takes all democracy can be dangerous, imagine a Tory govt with no upper chamber to keep them in check, and 5 years to do damage. I’d rather keep the Lords.

      • PI 6.1.1

        Would you have the same view if the Lords had just vetoed a Labour initiative to increase tax credits?

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        Chamber of Sober Second Thought.

        Except that it isn’t. Got into a slanging match with one of the Lords once where I proved, conclusively, that the legislation that they’d just passed was bloody stupid.

        Unicameral winner takes all democracy can be dangerous, imagine a Tory govt with no upper chamber to keep them in check, and 5 years to do damage.

        And what do you think was happening for the Tories first term?

        DS tells us that for every “good” decision the Lords make, they make a dozen stupid ones. The problem with that is that it’s wrong. For every good decision that the Lords make, they probably make several hundred wrong ones. If the Lords made good decisions then a Tory government wouldn’t be able to govern as none of their legislation would pass.

  7. JanMeyer 7

    Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of the proposed cuts to tax credits, the legislation giving effect to those cuts was passed three times in the Commons and then stymied by a bunch of disgruntled un-elected peers. The Conservatives were being rightly hammered from all sides, including from within, over this policy. Now the “other place” has made the story about the need for reform to this wholly undemocratic set-up. Silly stuff.

    • dukeofurl 7.1

      First it wasnt a proper “bill” so ‘wasnt passed 3 times in the Commons”as you say.

      They used the easy way to get it through the Commons as “regulations”, which are ONE VOTE ONLY

      Statutory Instruments are a type of delegated legislation. Delegated legislation allows the Government to make changes to a law without needing to push through a completely new Act of Parliament.

      “MPs debated a motion to approve the Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 in the House of Commons on Tuesday 15 September 2015.
      The debate was opened by the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Damian Hinds. Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Seema Malhotra, responded on behalf of the Opposition.
      MPs voted on the motion and the question was agreed to (Division No. 71: Ayes 325 votes, Noes 290 votes).

      “Draft Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015”
      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2015/9780111138946

      They tried a quick, cheap method to hide it from full debate and scrutiny and it backfired horribly

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