Tuesday 14 July 2009

Whatever happened to People's Peers

Remember back in the first term of Tony Blair's government the idea of People's peers, people were invited to nominate themselves for appointment to the House of Lords, it would an attempt to get good people who weren't part of the Establishment into parliament, the sort of person that would never get appointed through the usual channels.

3,000 applied, 15 were selected, to resounding disappointment at least in this quarter (no I hadn't applied). Most of the 15 were people who would very likely have got in under the old system. Still there were a couple of interesting names there, and maybe after the first batch of appointments it would start to settle it and provide a real way into the House of Lords?

Yesterday, the latest batch, only two this time, were announced, Dame Nuala O’Loan, former Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Both are Visiting Professors (O'Loan at Ulster and Sacks at both Kings College London and Birkbeck). Both have impressive records and will no doubt be an asset to the Upper House. But, but, can it be said that neither would have been appointed back in the old days? Aren't they both completely Establishment figures.

If the House of Lords Appointment Commission is only going to be appointing the same type of people that would have been appointed under the old system, what point is it playing? Can't that be one of the quangos we get rid of?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In a democracy legislators should be elected. The sooner we have a fully elected House of Lords the better. Currently who knows if someone is there by patronage or ability?