Thursday, 15 September 2016

Democracy is too expensive, apparently

Under draft plans just published, the number of parliamentary constituencies will fall significantly, reducing the number of MPs in Parliament by 50 to 600.

...Mr Cameron was pushing at an open door with his call for the number of MPs to be cut to reduce the cost of politics, something which also fitted in with the self-declared age of austerity.

OK, so it would save the country a little money (a very little money - the savings to be made by having 50 fewer MPs would be invisibly tiny on the scale of the nation's budget). But if it's so important to make a political gesture about cost-cutting, why do none of these concerns apply to our - already bloated - unelected chamber?
In April 2011, a cross-party group of former leading politicians, including many senior members of the House of Lords, called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to stop creating new peers. He had created 117 new peers since becoming prime minister in May 2010, a faster rate of elevation than any PM in British history...

...In August 2014, despite there being a seating capacity of only around 230 to 400 on the benches in the Lords chamber, the House had 774 active members (plus 54 who were not entitled to attend or vote, having been suspended or granted leave of absence). This made the House of Lords the largest parliamentary chamber in any democracy...

...In August 2015, following the creation of a further 45 peers in the Dissolution Honours, the total number of eligible members of the Lords increased to 826. In a report entitled Does size matter? the BBC said: "Increasingly, yes. Critics argue the House of Lords is the second largest legislature after the Chinese National People's Congress and dwarfs Upper Houses in other bi-cameral democracies such as the United States (100 senators), France (348 senators), Australia (76 senators) and India (250 members). The Lords is also larger than the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea (687 members)..."

These numbers make the price of democracy look like a bargain compared with the price of the inefficent, overstaffed oligarchy on the red benches.