Saturday, October 17, 2009
Lords Ministers to Play Role in Commons?
The revelation that Lords Mandeslon and Adonis will be allowed to take questions from MPs, has interesting constitutional implications. So far such questionings will only take place in the adjacent medieval Westminster Hall, but once and if they become nrmal who knows if m'lords might be seen at the Despatch Box itself. It's only precedent and flummery- of which we have far too much- which prevents it. Tony Ben is against the idea as these two ministers are not elected. But neither are any Cabinet ministers: they are appointed by the prime minister. Whether they are elected by a constituency seems to me a foible of our antque constitution.
Most senior ministers in other countries are appointed because they are thought capable of doing the job. I'd like to see the device of roping in ministers via the Lords used more widely to widen the talent pool available to Cabinets. Bringing in someone of great energy and ability to run a government department, say from business, academe or even the civil service, seems quite logical to me, and sensible too.
I realise this road might possibly lead even further: eventual prime ministers sitting in the Lords? The last one to do so was Lord Salisbury(1895-1902) and one wonders if such a development could usher in a new lease of life for the Lords as an entreport for new talent up to the highest level? Don't think this would be possible because parties run British politics and they function via activity in the Commons. But, maybe Mandy's enthusiasm for this innovation might have its origins in his perception of a circuitous constitutional route to his own elevation to the top job? Too little time, of course, and it would not happen but it's a thought to mull over.
Mandelson is a perfect example of why we should not have these types. He has been disgraced in the eyes of the British people(twice) and has less credibility than almost any of them(no mean feat). In the absence of Lords reform(another Nu Labor failure - they got rid of the bit they liked and then appointed their own legislators - a bit like Lenin did in 1917 actually), these people are appointees. Not acceptable. What you dismiss as "precedence" and "flummery" has a sound constitutional basis as students of the English Civil War will know(the last time we were ruled by so many who were appointed rather than elected - perhaps Mandy has Divine Right as well?).
If the "cream" of business, the civil service or academia - and surely Mandelson is none of these - want to rule over us, then they should go to the inconvenience of asking our permission via an election.
I know it bloody inconvenient for Mandelson and his like, but it's an old fashion thing called democracy. We used to have more of it before his type sold it all to Brussels for a comfy salary and a lavish expense account(see Judas).
Elected or appointed, we are getting rid of them all next June.
The fact is Mandy has stated he'd even join the dam Tories if they asked him, the reason because he is not an MP he is basically a free person able to do what he likes because he is not elected.
Links to this post: