SNP: time to abolish the House Of Lords

House Of Lords

On Wednesday, the SNP are calling to abolish the House Of Lords, an institution that has existed for centuries. Is it time for it to go?

The SNP MP Pete Wishart is making the case that the House is past any stage of reform and must be abolished.

Speaking before Wednesday’s debate, according to the SNP, the MP said:

"The House of Lords with its staggering 847 members, including hereditary peers and Bishops of the Church of England, is the most absurd political institution in the democratic world and it is right to describe it as an affront to our democracy."

The House of Lords is the UK’s second chamber, and members are appointed rather than elected. The chamber could have been reformed in the current parliament as the Lib Dems had heavily pushed for change. But plans for change to the chamber were abandoned in 2012. According to the BBC the plans for change had been to have a 450 member chamber - 80% of whom would have been elected.

The SNP’s calls to abolish the House Of Lords will get nowhere in this Parliament. However, with a high chance of the SNP doing well in May, then something could change in the post-2015 climate.

Whilst arguably not the most likely outcome from the election, May could produce a Labour administration with help from the SNP. Labour recently called for an elected senate to replace the House Of Lords. If May produces a parliament where the SNP and Labour can enter into an arrangement of sorts, this could be one area that the two parties could work together on. Additionally, with the Lib Dems also in favour of change, an agreement could be reached.

Speaking about Labour’s proposals in November, according to the Independent, Ed Miliband said:

“Only when every part of our country has a voice at the heart of our politics can we be sure that our country is run for all and not just for some.”

Overall, it appears there is demand for major changes to the House Of Lords, whether that be reform or outright abolition. Arguments to keep the chamber without direct elections are that it allows for independent decision making to overlook the work of the Commons. On the other hand, the lack of democratically accountability is something that feels out of place in our modern democracy.

There is a demand for change, and the post-2015 parliament could facilitate some big reform.

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Should the House Of Lords be abolished? Is an elected Senate working along side the House Of Commons the way forwards for democracy in the UK?