Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Oh, yes, it's an aristocracy (sort of)

There is a second house of the UK's Parliament. It used to be a place for the top of the aristocracy to exercise its rights to govern. Today, not so much. Why is it still around?

In Britain’s Parliament, a Crowded House Bursting With Lords
How many lords are enough?

[T]he House of Lords, the essentially consultative second chamber of the British Parliament, now has 810.

That’s twice as many Lords as can fit in their elegant hall in Westminster, with its red leather benches. And, perhaps uniquely, the Lords even outnumber their counterparts in the House of Commons, which is now fixed at 650 members and soon will have just 600…
Chamber of the House of Lords

Twenty-six of the Lords are bishops (Britain has a state religion, after all), and 91 are peers with hereditary noble titles. The vast majority are life peers, with seats and titles they cannot pass to descendants.

There’s the rub, and a source of increasing popular contempt for the Lords. Some life peers have been honored for noble acts and charitable works, but many were elevated for banal political reasons: for making money or donating it, often to the governing party (known as cash for honors), or simply for serving in government a long time.

Efforts to overhaul the House of Lords, reduce its membership, transform it into a senate or abolish it altogether, have produced more noise than fundamental change…

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