The Messrs. Oliver, Llewellyn, and Lockwood are sitting at home in the stultifying heat, holding their breath, waiting to see if they can add the burden of an ermine cloak to the trials of this heatwave.
David Cameron, disappointed that Theresa May’s Camelot turned out to be Camerless for his closest apparatchiks, has nominated them for the House of Lords. Once installed, they could use their votes to act as back seat drivers for him, clipping Theresa’s wings if she strays from the Cameron path…
It is not only fellow civil servants who have complained bitterly – but other Tory grandees. Isn’t there a tradition of
buying a Lordship donating freely to a party of your choice and, quite coincidentally, being called to give £350 a day lip service to democracy in the somnambulant and garrulous upper house? Not to mention a quite ridiculous title. Lord Pork of Ramadan, my Lady Tom of the Night. Those charged with raising funds for the party before the next election are outraged; how are they supposed to winkle cheques out of social climbers without dangling the prospect of such delights before them?
The House of Lord is already the reposiTory for several of Cameron’s close friends; last year’s honours list saw Kate Fall, humble coffee maker to the Prime Minister and former ‘squeeze’ of the Chancellor, transformed into the grandly named ‘Baroness Fall of Ladbroke Grove’. The better to add her knowledge of who takes sugar/who wants decaf, and George Osborne’s tickle spot, to the national debate. Similarly was Kate Rock transmogrified from Klosters chalet maid (wot nose where to obtain the essential supplies to keep George Osborne happy at a party) into ‘Baroness Rock of Stratton’ – just as well her name was Kate not Crystal. Now she can advise peers on the correct accompaniment to one’s Grouse. Bound to come in useful at a debate eventually.
Once you had to do battle on the medieval jousting fields to win honour, and you might be rewarded with a drafty windowless castle in a God forsaken Welsh valley (they are all God forsaken in my opinion) – at least that rewarded those who were prepared to take an arrow for the King. Now it has become no more than a bonus for having got the coffee order for the President of Ruanda down to a fine art.
Of course the cost of running the House of Lords isn’t just their £350 daily allowances – there’s all the other infrastructure costs too. The net operating costs of the House of Lords in 2013-4 were £93.1m, approximately equivalent to £118k per Peer. Times 798 of the fur clad buggers.
Only the People’s Republic of China can muster a larger unelected second chamber.
Part of the problem is that Blair’s ‘reform’ of the House of Lords merely succeeded in packing the Lords with ignoble former train drivers and bin men in order to gain a majority and get his legislation through. The next government had no choice other than to follow suit in order to make the country governable without invoking The Parliament Act.
Did you vote Brexit in order to reject what you saw as an undemocratic, unrepresentative system in favour of one where the upper chamber of Parliament comprises the eldest son of long dead sharp-archers, ‘married well’ chalet maids, friends of the Prime Minister and retired electricians from the gorbals?
At least limit the House of Lords (currently 798) to no more than the size of the Commons (650 – shortly to be 600) at the moment we have the ridiculous situation that even if the Commons was minded to reform the Lords – all 798 of them would turn up, at a cost of some quarter of a million quid for the day to us, and block the proposal.