LibLink: Chris Rennard – how the Lords reminds him of Lesotho

Writing for Public Service, Lord (Chris) Rennard has focused on just how unusual the House of Lords is:

In one of the many debates in the House of Lords about its future, I recently explained how, “like many noble lords, I take great pleasure in occasionally being able to show visitors around this place. Sometimes they are parliamentarians from other countries. Often they ask ‘How do you become a Lord?’ When you begin by explaining that perhaps your ancestors fought with the King in battle hundreds of years ago, or perhaps that they were what have been called ‘special friends’ of the King, these visitors look at you in amazement.”

Lesotho is the only other country in the world that maintains the hereditary principle for membership of a legislature. My visitors then invariably ask “how did you come to be here?” I then have to explain the powers of patronage conferred on our party leaders and how all but a few of the non-hereditary members are appointed. As a former party chief executive I have seen at close quarters the distorting effects on our democracy of this system of patronage. Leaders can appoint their friends or people who have helped them and block critics in their own party or people who have been known to disagree with their views. It is a simple matter of democratic principle for me to that those who make our laws should be chosen by all those subject to them.

You can read Chris Rennard’s piece on Lords reform in full here.

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