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Maybe time to ask why the House of Lords is two-thirds male?

04 May, 2018

Millicent Fawcett statue

• A STATUE of Millicent Fawcett, the suffragist, was recently unveiled in Parliament Square. In the centenary year of women winning the right to vote there has been much wearing of ribbons to remember the Suffragette movement.

Brilliant thing, democracy, so maybe time to ask why the House of Lords is two-thirds male? The unelected House of Lords is now inviting the lower, elected house to concede primacy when consideration is given to the EU Withdrawal Bill. It is doing so having passed an amendment to that Bill.

The government would be compelled to follow any direction passed in the House of Commons, but only if also passed by the House of Lords. The Commons would be bound by a vote in the Lords. Servile, even by the standards of today’s politicians.

If the Lords was to vote against a negotiated deal, it must fail despite having passed in the Commons. The Lords would move from being a revising chamber to deciding the matter.

With the deal defeated, the government might resort to a no-deal position, which again could be voted down in the Lords and so defeated. With a no-deal outcome rejected by the Lords having primacy in the matter, the govern­ment would be forced to return to Brussels to try to reopen negotiations.

Of course, this can’t happen. Labour MPs will vote it down because Jeremy Corbyn has resolved to scrap the House of Lords. The Liberal Democrats will vote it down because of their desire to radically reform the House of Lords.

The Speaker will be seeking advice from experts about what will be a clear usurping of authority by the Lords in cahoots with elements in the Commons. Maybe Gina Miller will resort to the courts. The Commons subjugated to the Lords and the Queen giving Royal Assent as if 1911 never happened.

As for renegotiating, the UK team will turn up to a deserted building. The EU, having concluded the deal, will have gone on holiday. Job and finish. The brilliant result being we “crash out” courtesy of the Lords. In the words of Duke Ellington: “We love you madly”.

STEPHEN SOUTHAM
Mildmay Grove North, N1

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