The House of Lords is “useless and dangerous to the people of England”

The House of Commons so declared on this day, 19th March, in 1649, when the House of Lords was abolished1Wikipedia Contributors (2022). House of Lords. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords#History [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]..

In January of that year, Charles I had been executed and Oliver Cromwell, ‘Lord Protector‘ dominated the Government. The House of Lords was reduced to a largely redundant body having no powers and was abolished declaring that “The Commons of England [find] by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England.”

In 1660, the monarchy was restored and the House of Lords re-assembled with the Convention Parliament.

Nowadays, the House of Lords is considered outdated and an unelected relict of Britain’s past glory. Currently, there are 767 sitting members and is the second-largest legislative chamber in the world. Second only to the Chinese National People’s Congress.

Whilst it is illegal for a peerage, or other honour, to be bought or sold2The Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 — [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords#Cash_for_peerages [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]., recent peerages allegedly made for political favours, such as Baron Lebedev, Baron Botham, and Baroness Hoey, have made a mockery of the institution.

Yet the House of Lords, in spite of its obvious faults provide a crucial check on the Government. Many Lords are unequivocally experts in their fields, unlike the Commons where bloviating incompetence is the new norm.

In the Nationality and Borders Bill, which has been sent back to the Commons for its third reading, the House of Lords has made 54 amendments for the Commons to consider3Parliament.uk. (2021). Nationality and Borders Bill – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament. [online] Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-02/0282/210282v2.pdf [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]..

Many of these amendments have been instigated by Alf Dubs, Baron Dubs, who arrived in Britain in 1939 as child refugee under the Kindertransport scheme. He has worked tirelessly for the rights of refugees coming to the UK. In the 2016 Immigration Act, his “Dubs amendment” allowed unaccompanied child refugees from the EU admittance into the UK. It was at first rejected by the Tory Government, but eventually accepted. 350 children were accepted before the Home Office removed it the following year4Anoosh Chakelian (2022). “Take Back Control meant Keep Them Out”: Alf Dubs on how Brexit “poisoned” the UK refugee response. [online] New Statesman. Available at: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics-interview/2022/03/take-back-control-meant-keep-them-out-alf-dubs-on-how-brexit-poisoned-the-uk-refugee-response [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]..

In the Nationality and Borders Bill, it is perhaps Clause 11 which is the most controversial. Under it, refugees will be divided into two classes depending on  how they arrived in the UK. Those who make their own way to the UK would be given an inferior form of protection with more limited rights, compared with those who arrived through government-sanctioned routes5Syal, R. (2022). Lords reject clause in bill limiting rights of refugees who arrive by irregular route. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/28/lords-reject-clause-in-bill-criminalising-refugees-who-arrive-by-irregular-route [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]..

Thus, those arriving by a small boat across the Channel, deemed an illegal route, could have their claim ruled as inadmissible, receive a jail sentence of up to four years, have no recourse to public funds, and have their family members barred from joining them.

The House of Lords has asked the Commons to delete this clause in its entirety.

Next week, the Nationality and Borders Bill returns to the Commons for the amendments to be considered. This weekend, please find the time to write to your MP to ask them to accept each and every one of the amendments.

And be sure to ask for a reply.

Today’s photo is a view across the moors to Highcliff Nabwith Guisborough beyond. As an aside, our very own Lord, or nearest at any rate, is Lord Gisborough whose full title is “The Lord Gisborough JP”. He is Thomas Richard John Long Chaloner, as 3rd Baron Gisborough he is a hereditary peer and has since retired from the House of Lords; so no longer a sitting member and would not have voted on these amendments6Parliament.uk. (2022). Voting record for Lord Gisborough – MPs and Lords – UK Parliament. [online] Available at: https://members.parliament.uk/member/3603/voting [Accessed 19 Mar. 2022]..

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