Sunday, July 16, 2006

What are the Reserved Places in the House of Lords?

In Tony Blair's interview with Jon Sopel at lunchtime, he was asked about Lord Levy's travails and the cash for Peerages issue. This is one of his answers...

There is one thing I would say to you however, because it's important people understand that nobody in the Labour Party to my knowledge, has sold on us or sold peerages. And the fact that it's sometimes excluded from the public's mind in relation to this debate, is that there are places in the House of Lords that are reserved for party nominees, for their party supporters. Right. These are not honours, they're working peerages, reserved for Party supporters, Conservative supporters, Labour supporters, Liberal Democrat supporters. In my view, it is absurd to say, that if someone supports a political party financially - helps it pay its bills, run its election campaign, that they should be debarred from being party supporters for those places reserved specifically for party supporters.

Perhaps someone could enlighten me as to which part of our constitution reserves places in the House of Lords for Party nominees. He really does make it up as he goes along, doesn't he? Perhaps this answer illustrates perfectly the damage Blair has inflicted on our constitution in eight years.

And note the lawyer's 'get-out' phrase "to my knowledge". Classic Blair.


Anonymous said...

So why are not the 'Media' coming down on him like a ton of bricks?

God help us all.

Let us hope that over time this blogging thingie excites some form of revolution. Sadly we are not likely to see Dave leading it. You can't lead if there's nothing to follow.

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps "sold on us" should be "sold honours".

And yep, the "to my knowledge" sounds like a total getout clause.

SPL said...

Well, we don't have a codified constitution, so there's no answer to that question. But, as Blair implies, peerages are (de facto) reserved for supporters of the three parties via royal patronage.

Agree re "to my knowledge", although technically, this phrase is a truism: one can't speak on the basis of anyone else's knowledge. Though what it does suggest, albeit very tenuously, is that Blair is attempting to distance himself from the shenanigans of Levy & co.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your penultimate comment, Iain, I have been convinced from the start of his peculiar premiership that much of the vandalism he has committed against our constitution has been unwitting. I believe he is a very ignorant man with no knowledge of, or interest in, history.

The world began when Tony Blair was born. Despite 2,000 years of history, and an aging population, he declared that "Britain is a young country". This is demonstrably insane or ignorant to a dangerous degree in a head of government.

This is why he has had no qualms or hesitations about allowing hordes of immigrants, many of them from primitive societies with alien mores and unwilling to fit into our traditions, into the country. No sense of the past, no sense of Britain, no sense of Britishness at all. I don't think it's part in an evil scheme. I think it's stupidity and self-regard.

This is why he will not leave office until absolutely forced to by others - either the police or his own party. The world began when Tony was born. The British government cannot continue to operate without Tony. It's all infantile self-regard.

Bob Piper said...

I know the Conservatives have come a long way under Dave, Iain, but are you suggesting that in future he won't be nominating Conservative supporters to be the Conservative Party nominations to the House of Lords? If so, this is really progressive and could assist in redressing the party imbalance in the Lords which I am sure the Prime Minister would welcome.

Anonymous said...

I cannot claim to say l know what the constitution says on this because l dont!However if as you say he is making it up as he goes,it brings to mind Lord Denning!who says he can't change the constitution anyway:-)Isnt the constitution mainly unwritten?Is he not called first among equals?Politics is not for the faint hearted is it? ha-ha

Anonymous said...

Bang on. "To my knowledge" ... "am minded that"... Legalese maybe, more like a second rate solicitor bluffing it in the vicinity of a new Recorder.

To the best of my knowledge Lord Levy's various statements over the weekend already contradict these musings of the Great Leader.

To the best of our knowledge many of the lies fed to the generally equivocal press may have been swallowed up, but, for example, the existence of strategic uncoventional weaponry in Saddamite Iraq deployable on 45 seconds notice have been demonstrably proved to be not only non-existent, but a wilful contrivance by those who purported to legitimate their policy by said weapons' demonstrable existence.

In this case, stating "to my knowledge" in such a context can be used in court during cross-examination whilst evidence to the absolute contrary is presented to a defendant, thereby unsettling them at worst, exposing their malfeasance best.

How M'Lud will look upon the the ps-pot blarney of "i'm a reasonable guy", "only acting in the best interest of the country/party", "right, look", "trust me" and assorted hand gestures remains to be seen, unless jurisprudence has forsaken all sense of purpose.

Funny, Plod were all over David Kelly's bank accounts looking for "evidence" of receiving funds from Fleet Street instead of chasing up forensics in the immediate aftermath of his passing on. Why have the Met not been similarly "interfered with"?

Maybe so much inteference has been run on making sure badly trained and screened coppers evaded manslaughter charges for actions that would have been in Northern Ireland from 1969 onwards (or, as now in Iraq) the certain focus of a trial, at the minimum a manslaughter sentence, and an immediate focus on retraining within an institution to remedy the faults identified.

Although, it's odd that there's been no public coroner's inquest in this instance as well with each of the parties to the action resulting in a death from unnatural causes being called - they always were in NI and there was an inquest in the aftermath of the extraordinary Iranian Embassy Siege too - which perhaps signals a similar level of interference to that of the constitutionally unprecedented case of Mr. D. Kelly who into whose death there was no statutory coroner's inquest, despite a plethora of publicly available evidence and statements contradicting a supposed suicide...

Given that fact alone, No. 10 has surely been blindsided and the fixer-attack dogs must be reapplied from their previous interference operations through to savaging the seemingly diligent bunch led by Insp. Yates...

Yet, surely, any such action now would be too obvious to democratic institutions, the free media and an independent judiciary?

We live in uncertain times.

ian said...

Anyone who claims that the Middle East envoy has done an excellent job in the region is clearly detached from reality!

Anonymous said...

Well that's a new one! He clearly lives in a complete fantasy world.

As much as I've always disliked him I never thought he was actually delusional, but now...

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the fact that our constitution requires bills to go through the Lords mean the main parties have to be able to nominate people to the Lords to act as frontbench spokesmen and whips, at least?

And -- I ask because I do not know, but I think I recall it's the case -- wasn't some agreement between the parties reached as part of the 1999 House of Lords Reform package about the rough numbers of working peers each party should have?

Anonymous said...

The "reserved places" thing is classic Bliar - he simply invents something utterly dreadful, makes it sound normal and nice, oozes all over it, waits for the usual nauseating misunderstandings and retreats from the cretinously undertrained and inexperienced "journalists" that now grace our airwaves and then simply implements it as if it's been running for years. Puts Heath-Wilson-Callaghan-Thatcher-Major to shame in terms of sheer wily contempt for process. Stalin would have immediately promoted him to chairman of a state committee, perhaps the one that fabricated Today's Big Lie.

On the issue of journalists, has anyone noticed just how very crap the ones out in the Middle East are? The bloke on Sky News things the population of Haifa is "two hundred and fifty million". The ludicrously overpromoted Emma Hurd thinks "Hamas run the Tel Aviv council now" and the idiots on CNN are almost entirely incapable of even locating Lebanon on a map. The BBC are similarly degenerate, most of their commentators sound shrill and anxious. The ridiculous woman who took over Dateline London this morning from the skilled Gavin Essler shouted so much at the (actually quite distinguished) journalists present that I thought they would actually get up and hit her.

Bring back the man in the white suit. We forgive him for knocking out the pathetic Hamilton, even though Fayed did make the whole thing up.

Paul Burgin said...

To my knowledge, cabinet ministers, whether Conservative or Labour, and leaders of the Lib Dems (although Thorpe, for obvious reasons, was an exception) are almost automatically offered peerages when they stand down from the Commons.
But I think that many across the Parties want to see reform and more transparency and hopefully that will come about out of this current mess.

Anonymous said...

I would not get to excited Iain, I don't think Bliar is resevering a place for you.

Anonymous said...

Given that we have no codified constitution it is hardly likely that Blair could point to any part of it that reserved places for party nominees.

And I would be intrigued to hear your response were Blair to have said some years ago, "we have decided not to give any peerages to Tory or Liberal nominees - it isn't as if there is a written rule on the matter."

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

Well, in our unwritten constitution there is certainly a long-established convention of political working peers, as distinct from crossbenchers.

The problem with that argument is however that there are a tremendous number of "working" peers with extremely low attendence levels. Indeed, the term "working peerage" is a bit of spin in and of itself.

That isn't to say a number of peers with low attendence rates aren't good value (Baroness Kennedy only turns up 19.6% of the time yet consistently votes against her own party whip on civil libertarian issues), but to claim it isn't an "honour" is absolutely absurd.

Anonymous said...

Blair is, as Lord Tebbit said in his interview posted on this revered site, a fantasist.

He sincerely doesn't know right from wrong; fact from fantasy. He believes every word he is saying when he says it.

How he ever got through the process to become prime minister of an ancient colonial power which retained most of its former colonies as friends and family in the British Commonwealth condemns Labour's selection process and, indeed, British electorate for voting for him. Why did they vote for this cheap trick? Could they really not see through his carney sham?

The sins of the Tories, much as they were repulsive, were such small beer compared to NuLabour's vandalising of our constitution and vandalising of our ancient bill of rights - while in pursuit of money and power elsewhere.

Tony and the Blairina will now never be president and presidentess (I leave it to you to guess who would have been the more powerful) of Europe.

They've got to cling on by their fingernails to some element of respectability to get speaking engagements in the US. Frankly, with this scandal, I think that is basically gone.

Anyone who has ever lived in Texas knows that George Bush has a reputation as a boss poker player. This is the Texas way. Whatever outsiders think, Bush knows every second what cards he holds. Tony doesn't know because he trusts in the wonderfulness of his own being to make the cards OK. Somehow.

Blair and the Blairina have served their purpose. There is no balm in Gilead. There will be no comfort for them in DC. Except if they try to do it on their own. They are just bold enough in their stupidity to rush the fence. I predict broken forelocks.

Boo bloody hoo.

Anonymous said...

No one has even mentioned Blair's real lasting legacy. There are now more English than Scottish who crave Independence from Britain. With the latest news that the Labour Party are to offer Scottish pensioners 25% off their council taxes, the figures will rise.

Am I just being cynical, or does anyone else believe Blair will try to put a stop to the police investigations and media headlines, by taking us all into the latest middle east war? They (Bush and Blair) haven't exactly gone out of their way to stop it, have they? Is this what they wanted all along?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, Bliar said that "no members of the Labour Party" had sold (etc) honours.

Is Levy actually a party member? What about the No 10 fixers?

Another non-denial denial?

The Remittance Man said...

I know we joke about ZanuLabour, but I'm starting to get worried that The Great Leader actually thinks Britain is Zimbabwe. The constitution of that benighted nation does reserve a certain percentage of seats in parliament to be filled by presidential nominees.

Could someone go and show the PM a map and explain the differences between the former Rhodesia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

Anonymous said...

Blair has played the oldest trick in the book!

Under the title of "People you can't deal with", the author tells you that someone that agrees with you regarding failures but admits nothing, makes himself virtually bulletproof.

In this instance Blair makes an assertion that party donors have always been rewarded with peerages and that all parties are allowed this privelege. In a second breath he puts "sale" of peerages into a category all of its own, and denies that this has taken place (to his knowledge!).

I have to hand it to the shifty bugger, he is in a class of his own in the 'squirm and turn' club. Someone ought to ask him as to why this investigation has gone on for so long if everything is all above board. Of course there's no answer to that and the creep will walk away from it again.

Anonymous said...

Bob Piper said

"I know the Conservatives have come a long way under Dave, Iain, but are you suggesting that in future he won't be nominating Conservative supporters to be the Conservative Party nominations to the House of Lords? If so, this is really progressive and could assist in redressing the party imbalance in the Lords which I am sure the Prime Minister would welcome."

...... There is no imbalance in the House of Lords, There are actually MORE labour Peers than Tories
Labout have 206 The Tories 205!

Anonymous said...

The important question, it seems to me, is not whether party leaders should or shouldn't be able to nominate people as life peers to act as party spokesmen or to help get business through the House of Lords but about the credentials of the people whom they nominate.

It doesn't seem particularly surprising that parties should nominate their own supporters and activists for such positions, including people who've been active in local government, trades unions or the CBI, or just the political party concerned. Nor does it seem surprising that a committed supporter of a party should, if he's fortunate enough to be able to afford it, make generous donations to the party he supports. Nor, of course, should it be forgotten that what seems to you or me a huge donation probably doesn't seem so large to someone who's got a few million quid in the bank.

What does seem a bit odd, though, is that someone whose only evidence hitherto of political committment and activism is a couple of recent and generous donations should be considered appropriate for nomination as a 'working' peer.

Anonymous said...

No matter how hard the Tory right wingers try, they just can't seem to get it right in their futile attempts to dislodge our wondrous leader and our caring Government.

It is the Tory party that is in disarray, Iain.

This is the worst Tory party in the history of politics.

Looking at William Hague on Adam's sunday slot, only gave the game away that William is out of his depth once again.

The EPP scandal should see Dave brought in for questioning by Knacker of the Yard for his being a politician under 'false pretences'.

What a shower you lot actually are.


Anonymous said...

So Lord Levy being a "working peer" means something else other than attending the Lords (15.8%)

Anonymous said...

Verity said..
"Blair is, as Lord Tebbit said in his interview posted on this revered site, a fantasist."

Then I saw Gary Elsby's post, and I recognised a huge similarity in the thought processes......

The Leadership Blogger said...

As the current investiation is under the "Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925", and he now claims the dodgy (possibly) peerages concerende are NOT HONOURS, why didn't they just tell Mr Plod to F*ck off ? Err, because they ARE "honours" ?

strapworld said...

Gary Elsby does have a valid point. This IS the worst LED conservative party and they appear to agree to anything that will get them P O W E R!

That is quite sick. Forget that power now exists, largely, within the EU. Previous tory governments and this present shower having given away the freedoms millions fought for over the thousand years of our history.

It is this lack of real power which gives idle minds other things to contemplate and that, inevitably means making money for themselves/party?

The whole damned lot are in need of replacement and we need a new party to take us there. Led by genuine people with real experience of life and work. NO a lists b lists etc. A commitment to return this country to its former glory. Accepting efugees and immigrants that want to become british and not allow 'communities' of this and that to develop.

We once were proud to be called BRITISH being scottish welsh irish and english together. Now we have a collection of they gay or mongolian.

We need to get back together and we need urgently before it is to bloody late to get rid of the fruitcake and his minnions at present acting as our presidento.

there ended the first lesson

Anonymous said...

Blair's argument is absolutely absurd. "These are not honours, they're working peerages". The unarticulated part of the argument is, therefore, "We might have sold working peerages, but we haven't sold honours, because working peerages aren't honours. We sold something that we're not prohibited from selling."

That is sheer fantasy.

Anonymous said...

"Selling peerages" or is it "reserved places" :-) For some reason this topic reminds me of Geoffrey Chaucer's Pardoner's tale in Canterbury tales.l can't readily recall the story.Can anyone tell me if there are any similarities?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with some of the comments here. Inept journalism and a failure to really challenge Blair by the Conservatives, particularly in respect of Dave Cameron, is what really worries me. He appears to running his own agenda, seeing nothing in the periphery of his vision, and charging forward with publicity stunts and ideas of what a Conservative utopia means to him personally. I don’t know who his scriptwriter is but the central focus beggars belief. When it is quite clear that the public have had enough of Blair for the reasons of his defective character and his government’s mishandling of the criminal justice system, education, immigration and crime, one would think that Dave would tackle these problems head on with a tough approach. Instead we are gobsmacked by his (or his advisors) total ignorance of general opinion and what will eventually win votes. I cannot believe that the Conservatives are wasting the chance of a lifetime by pratting about with a Tonyclone. We keep hoping for something better, but I fear the Conservatives are dead in the water unless they wake up!

Anonymous said...

Gary Elsby (Have you seen his rantings on the BBC website?) says, 'This is the worst Tory party in the history of politics.'
Gary - how exactly would you describe this current shower of liars, thieves and chancers? The ones currently ruining the country, I mean...

Anonymous said...

It is a well known trait of criminals and liars, to 'try out' their defence in
draft form prior to having to deal with the relevant formal confrontation. The
question is whether he is practicing for, (a)further media questions, (b) the
police interrogation, or, (c) the trial!

Anonymous said...

I may of course be mistaken, but don't the various Parliament Acts render the decisions of the Upper House (and much of our synthentic outrage about peddling seats and votes therein) somewhat redundant?

Now Cash For Contracts... that's much more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Blogging into the Tory sites is not considered good practice by many of the left and thoroughly looked down on as sport by you lot of the right.

I always tell the truth and have no passion for lies. A big problem for some with blinkers firmly on.

Blair, for all of his ills, has delivered. His delivery has upset a few on the harder edges but what's on the plate at home and abroad is fairly convincing.

Cameron and Hague have just lied their way through each and every day. What is the great Tory plan-policies at a date soon? 'm banned from 'conservative home' for daring to say the Tories are crap.
For suggesting that former leaders 'loaned' more than Blair.

The Tories are dead and being buried each day. Accept it.


Bob Piper said...

guardian cub reporter corrects me....

"There is no imbalance in the House of Lords, There are actually MORE labour Peers than Tories
Labout have 206 The Tories 205!"

How can this be... unless there are political nominations? And how can there be political nominations unless some are reserved for party nominations?

Anonymous said...

>'m banned from 'conservative home' for daring to say the Tories are crap.

No, Gary, it's because you're crap.

PoliticalHackUK said...

Where's the shock here?

For years, each party has had a varying number of peerages to fill to ensure something of a party political balance amongst the peers that actually turn up (rather than the ones who get the honour for long service in a particular field and only show up when they have to). Tory, LD and Labour members get nominated for these slots and they are 'reserved' for that purpose.

Anyone checked that the Tories and the LDs haven't rewarded any of their generous donors with peerages? Mind you, the LDs have a couple of millionaires on their Commons benches who found their wealth VERY helpful when it came to getting elected.

Scary Biscuits said...

In today's Telegraph: "Mr Prescot's spokesman...said the casinos were mentioned, but not discussed." Urr does that mean they were talked about but not brought up; cited but not referenced? How much more weasely can you get?

BTW the latest Labour spin is saying that (a) being made a 'working peer' isn't an honour and (b) all the parties have space reserved for such peers - so it's all ok then. Nothing to see here. Move along please...

Labour is giving yet another of its classic non-denial denials.

There is no crime in giving peerages to your supporters. There is no crime if all of lab/lib/tory donors 'happen' to get honours. Giving money to democratic parties is laudible IMHO.

On the other hand, there IS a crime, literally, if those parties say 'give us x and we'll recommend you for y'. That's corruption. And yes it is illegal no matter how hard Labour supporters try to justify it. It's irrelevant if some jobs were 'created' as a result of it. It's also no good using the Edith Cresson defence, saying everybody's at it.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you seem to be unaware that this is the United Kingdom, and we have an unwritten constitution. One of the aspects of the British constitution is custom and practice. One custom and practice since 1958 is that the political parties are able to nominate some of their supporters to receive "working peerages" and take an active part in House of Lords business.

What the Prime Minister said was entirely correct in every particular.

Iain Dale said...

David, of course I am aware of both these things. But I question his use of "reserved places". This implies there is a specific number reserved for particualr parties or people representing different interests from the parties. There are no such reserved places, as well you know. It is an interesting lawyer's way of trying to skirt round the problem he has created for himself.

Anonymous said...

Gary Elsby
I believe you when you say you dont tell lies. I do not either. However it does not follow that therfore you are correct about anything.

Are you saying that the Thatcher and Magor governments were better than a government that has not even happened yet? Seems like a very ignorent and imature statement indead. Have you got permision to us your daddies PC?

As for the Conservative party being finished. Have a look if you can find time from watching CBBC at a local government political map. Also can you give us a clue as to what party, if not the Conservative party, non-socialists can vote for. Which BTW is the vaste magority of the British people, in my experience and opinion.

Do you believe in dictatorship? Or do you just seem to?

Would you really prefer another socialist party like the BNP or the lib/dems to replace the Conservative Party in opposition?

Advice from me to you would be, try to stop gaining your political insite from watching to much BBC TV it is bad for your credibility.

SPL said...

"Strapworld" should try to read something other than the Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

Gary powell appears a little confused with politics. Allow me the opportunity to laugh at him.

You belong to the, "We lost but we are honest group".
Similar to Labour rebels who hate Blair and all thing Blair (but not £Bn's into NHS and Schools blah blah blah).

Utter bollocks if you ask me.

I didn't invent the game of politics, but I know, through experience, that to lose means the opposition win and therefore have the Nations cheque-book on life.

Ask Georgy Osborne what it's like to do a bit of thumb twiddling while Gordon writes Trident cheques out.

Dave can hug huskies all day long for me, and if you want to take the piss out of me, fine, who am I to argue? You can bang on all day, for me, about how good a policy-less, tree-planting bunch of flag wavers you all are, BUT, let's be correct in all of this.

You are just fucking about while Labour runs the show.
Get used to it. Thatcher and Major (true blue Europeans to a man),you aint.That's why you are, what you are. Trust me, Gordon will devour you soon.