Love Island pushes Lords reform back onto the agenda
First published on Backbench.
Last night, Zara and Ellie joined the increasingly close knit group of lovers and friends (sorry Alex) on Love Island. In addition to a nuclear electrical engineer and an A&E doctor, the introduction of Zara means we now have a ‘Government advisor’ in the mix. As she started chatting with Jack, they got straight onto the legislative agenda, with the narrator going on to say Zara asked the boys about their positions on reform of the House of Lords.
Within 24 hours the House of Commons had a Westminster Hall debate on a referendum to abolish the House of Lords. The debate was granted because an e-petition gained a huge number of signatures (over 160,000 and counting), pushing it over the 100,000 mark needed for consideration for debate. As was said during the debate, 160,000 is a significant number of members of the public, who clearly care about changing this archaic part of our democracy.
The Lords has received heightened criticism in recent days, due to a combination of its members’ actions around Brexit, most notably those of Lord Adonis.
Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill were being voted on during the debate on the Chamber’s abolition in Westminster Hall. Brexiteers say the Lords is overstepping the mark by ‘forcing’ delay on the Government’s key piece of Brexit legislation. Even some Remainers have made similar remarks, whilst parliamentarians, regardless of their position on the EU, have taken it as an opportunity to raise concerns about the democratic deficit in the unelected upper chamber. The #FBPE Twitterati have been showering the Lords with praise for their relative opposition to Brexit compared to the Commons.
Opponents to Lords reform say such reform is not important and that politicians should focus on other things people actually care about. In a related vein, many Lords supporters make the case that the Upper Chamber presents a bulwark against the tyranny of the masses and the tyranny of extremists in the House of Commons.
It being mentioned on Love Island should be proof enough to anybody that reform of the House of Lords is back on the popular agenda. As was said in the Westminster Hall debate, now is the time for a reformed and representative House of Lords.