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Should the House of Lords be abolished? Show more Show less

The role of the British Parliament’s second unelected chamber has been debated for a century to no avail. Despite minor reform in the late 1990s, the future of the House of Lords remains ambiguous at best. So what is the purpose of the House of Lords? Should it be left untouched, reformed, or ultimately abolished?

The House of Lords should remain untouched Show more Show less

The House of Lords is an institution that benefits British democracy.
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The House of Lords works well

The House of Lords plays an important role in the English government, and does it well.
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Context

The Argument

Despite much criticism the House of Lords continues to play an important role scrutinising and revising government legislation. The bulk of its members are appointed for life. Sitting independently outside of narrow party politics, peers do not have to seek regular re-election. This allows them more time to scrutinise and debate legislation, and ensures that they are not beholden to one particular party leader. The current political make-up of the Lords also means that the Government does not have a majority, making it in some senses the real opposition as it has the numbers to amend and defeat legislation, forcing the Government to rethink its approach.

Counter arguments

The lack of democratic accountability in the House of Lords undermines its legitimacy and the UK's credibility as a whole. It gives outsiders the impression that cronyism and nepotism remain a large part of British society. Despite the Government not having a majority, peers in the House of Lords fear its eventual abolition and often will only oppose or revise government legislation to the extent that it may cause minor irritation but not a serious obstacle. The lack of democratic legitimacy has allowed previous governments to introduce legislation to curtail the power of the Lords, ensuring that it cannot operate with the same power of an elected upper chamber.

Framing

Premises

[P1] The House of Lords primary role is as a check to the House of Commons. [P2] It does this well, so should stay.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P2] The House of Lords curtains democracy rather than advancing it.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

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    This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Mar 2020 at 15:20 UTC