Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 3 May 2012


Next Wednesday is the state opening of Parliament, heralding with all the pomp and majesty that we do so well, another session of law-making. The Queen's Speech, written as ever by the government of the day, will set out the legislative programme for the next 12 months. The horses are being groomed, the House of Lords burnished to glittering perfection as we await the arrival of this wonderful state occasion always beautifully described by Huw Edwards on the BBC.

This year there is quiet controversy, behind the scenes, about the contents of the Speech. It had been intended that the main plank of the Parliamentary programme would be a bill to pave the way for a directly elected House of Lords. The trouble is twofold. First of all, many of us think that the bill as drafted to introduce Senators for a fifteen year term, elected on a regional list system (like our MEPs) would introduce constitutional chaos. Secondly, at a time when people are worried about the economy, their jobs, rising costs of living, they would be bemused to see us spending three months or more debating something about which they care...not at all.

Many of us are trying to persuade our masters that this bill should be kicked into the long grass and that the focus for the next 12 months should all be about getting our economy to grow, enabling us to debate and improve the things that matter to our constituents. Although it is late in the day, there is still time to pull the plug on this largely unwanted sideshow.

This is one of the times that being in coalition does not help. For understandable reasons our coalition partners are wedded to the extra democratic legitimacy that an elected upper house would allegedly bring. For myself, I cannot see the point of putting in place a system in which the wise and experienced who have achieved something special in their lives and have something to contribute would be excluded from now on. Captains of industry, Army chiefs, charity leaders etc would never stand for party elections and so we would be left with more career politicians. Is that such a great idea?

By the time you read this the decision may well have been made. It will shape the next few months and maybe British politics for a generation. I hope common sense will prevail but I am not holding my breath.

posted by Gary @ 09:38