Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Saving money? the Lords and constitutional reform

As the Cornish border prepares to take on no more political significance to London than the Amazon, news about the creation of more peers in the Lords has me truly perplexed. The argument for the reduction in numbers of MPs is justified as saving money, part of the Governments obsession with cutting public spending. It is argued that 50 less MPs will save money and at the same time constituencies can be made roughly the same size in population. Which results in at least one cross Tamar constituency and communities everywhere in the UK being ignored for the sake of cold hard mathematics.

This reduction in MPs will save the public purse an estimated £12 million pounds a year. That's all well and good but in the same stroke the government is creating 300 new peers to the House of Lords, a cost that one peer estimates at £60 million pounds a year.  So it would seem that Cornwall stands to lose its border and democratic representation will be reduced throughout the UK, yet the unelected unaccountable Lords will be increased by 300. Which will either increase the House of Lords to over a thousand peers or prompt golden handshakes for retirees.

So, what kind of democracy is this that favour unpopular traditions like the Lords over popular traditional borders?
That favours electoral reform of the elected house whilst bolstering the unelected house?
That has more unelected representatives than elected?
Surely a fortune could be saved by trimming the Lords down to size leaving the Commons be and thus keeping Cornwall's border intact?