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ELECTORAL reformers slammed the “ludicrous farce” of an upcoming hereditary peer by-election in the House of Lords.
The “vote,” which the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) described as the “most elitist in the world,” was triggered following the death of hereditary Tory peer Lord Lyell in January.
On March 21, peers will decide from a small group of aristocrats who will be able to vote on British laws for the rest of their lives — and claim eye-watering expenses of £300 per day.
Of those standing for election, the ERS points out, all 27 are men while more than half are over 60. Almost all of the candidates attended private schools, with 11 being Old Etonians, as was Mr Lyell himself. U
nder the paltry reforms of the House of Lords Act 1999, almost all hereditary peers, including Lord Lyell, lost their automatic right to sit in the House of Lords. This proved to be little obstacle however as he became one of the 92 “elected” hereditary peers to remain in the House pending completion of the Act, which remains uncompleted to this day.
Commenting on the pending poll, ERS chief executive Katie Ghose said: “Yet again we are witnessing the farce of a hereditary peer ‘by-election’ — the most ludicrous part of our constitutional set-up.
“There are just 30 voters per candidate in this so-called election. Lords are literally picking their peers from a tiny pool of aristocrats.”
The process was, she said, “a total embarrassment to our politics.”
She concluded: “Ending this absurd practice should be addressed urgently. For most people, it is simply astonishing that in the 21st century, a small cadre of hereditary Lords still decide who sits in our legislature and who votes on laws that affect us all.
“Scrapping the hereditary peer system must be the first step in the process of cutting the second largest chamber on Earth down to size — and replacing it with a fairly elected revising chamber that can represent us all.”
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