By April 2019, with the retirement of nearly one hundred peers since the passage of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014, the number of active peers had been reduced to a total of 782, of whom 665 were life peers.
A “Democratic Audit” in 2018 reported “However, its members remain creatures of patronage, and wholly unaccountable to the UK’s citizens. All parties except the Tories now support its replacement by an elected Senate. Increasingly only the Tories and Liberal Democrats are still appointing any peers – although there are also a fifth of peers who are ‘crossbenchers’, not taking a party whip”.
Pro-EU Liberal Democrats are now massively over-represented in the Lords relative to their current unpopular support, and most long-established Tory and Labour peers are pro-Remain.
Once appointed they effectively sit for life and attend more or less when they wish, never facing re-appointment, nor of course any form of re-election. The Lords’ powers in law-making are limited to amending or delaying non-financial bills, and its members have generally followed a convention acknowledging the ‘primacy’ of the Commons. In addition, the ‘Salisbury convention’ means that the House will give a second reading to bills for which an elected government in the House of Commons has a majority and a manifesto commitment.
It’s reported that yesterday the House of Lords spent a first day on the Report Stage of the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill and, as expected, managed to inflict three separate defeats on the Government. There were 499 votes, 446 votes, and 392 votes as their lordships were gradually overcome by tireditis and/or the need of liquid refreshment. As the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill is vital to our regaining sovereignty, such disdain for the wishes of the electorate is deplorable. We need a House of Lords Reform Act 2020 so as to stop this nonsense!
Regarding the right of EU citizens continuing to reside in the UK after Brexit, peers backed an amendment from Lib Dem peer Lord Oates and others allowing them to be given physical proof of their status by 270 votes to 229 (majority: 41).
They voted by 241 votes to 205 (majority: 36) to remove the power of ministers to decide which courts should have the power to depart from judgments of the European Court of Justice and by reference to what test.
Peers then backed by 206 votes to 186 (majority: 20) a move by Conservative ex-Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay of Clashfern to allow cases to be referred to the Supreme Court to decide whether to depart from EU case law.
As reported “This means that there will certainly be ‘ping pong’ between the Commons and Lords on Wednesday when the Bill will have to travel back and forth between the two Houses until they can both agree on a final version of the Bill. And the Lords’ Report Stage will conclude today, starting at 11am, when a further defeat could be inflicted on the Government in respect of child refugees”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added a new clause into the Withdrawal Agreement Bill following his decisive general election victory, to allow ministers the power to direct the courts on interpretation of EU law and to allow lower courts the power to overturn rulings of the ECJ.
Baroness Trumpington made a gesture in the Lords indicative of her feelings to a government Minister. It suits the mood of those among us who dislike the un-democratic House.