By David Parker- Editor of Valley News

In answer to an email from me about a petition signed by more than 150,000 people nationwide, South West Wilts MP Dr Andrew Murrison replied: “I voted for a fully elected Lords but an elected second chamber will be more expensive, as the new men and women will need actual pay, pensions, accommodation costs and staff, just like MPs.

“On ministers, in many jurisdictions you are disbarred from office if you are an elected member of the legislature.”

The Government responded to the petition ‘Give the electorate a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords’. “As set out in the manifesto, the Government is committed to ensuring the House of Lords continues to fulfil its constitutional role as a revising and scrutinising chamber which respects the primacy of the House of Commons.

“While comprehensive reform is not a priority, the Government will also continue to work to ensure the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.
“The Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Burns, made recommendations in October, 2017, on ways of reducing the size of the House without requiring legislation.

In response, the Prime Minister has written to the Lord Speaker and agreed to continue with the restraint she has shown so far when making appointments to the House. It is incumbent on all sides of the House to consider what they can do to further promote the culture of retirement. In light of the Prime Minister’s letter, the Lord Speaker has asked the Committee to reconvene to consider next steps.”

People point out that times have changed. As a country, we can no longer afford a lavish House of Lords. Their Lordships and Ladyships should be prepared to sit and be paid expenses only, not daily allowances. It’s immoral, unrepresentative, unconstitutional and an insult to democracy, volunteers, and the working people of Great Britain and the Commonwealth to have to pay more than £10 million a year for this institution.

Why do we have cross-party scrutiny committees of MPs? Why do we have unelected Lords as ministers in government, when we elect Commoners to serve us as MPs, and therefore ministers?
It’s obvious we cannot live beyond our means. Even with near full employment, HMRC tax revenues cannot meet costs, and austerity has not worked for government or population.

It’s common-sense, not politics, the country needs now, at local, national and international levels. We can’t blame it on the older generation many of whom survived two world wars and now need care in a caring community with help from government, local and national that shows it cares.

That should begin with an overhaul of the tax system to simplify it and make it more efficient and less wasteful.

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