House of Lords is a shambles, says House of Lords

Written by James Millar on 3 April 2017 in Diary

Peers claim more people are watching them on TV because of Brexit, but viewers are confused by proceedings 

The House of Lords has been dubbed a “complete shambles”, by members of the House of Lords.

In a fiery debate on the role of the Lord Speaker peers described the current arrangements for choosing who speaks in debates as “embarrassing chaos”.

Baroness Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, described recent proceedings in the upper chamber as “bad tempered and sometimes quite rude.” Giving the lie to the idea that the upper chamber was a haven of civility she said a Lib Dem peer was told to “shut up and sit down” by another lord.

Lord Rooker claimed some of his colleagues are “verbal bullies”.

The debate was called by Lord Grocott who proposed giving new powers to the Lord Speaker, a position currently held by Lord Fowler. Without giving the chair as much power as John Bercow in the House of Commons he called for the Lord Speaker to be able to choose who speaks next at question time and following statements in the upper chamber. Currently lords use a system of self-regulation where they essentially decide among themselves the order in which the parties get to take part and peers simply stand up to speak rather than being called.

Lord Grocott complained that the current system makes it “more difficult for people without loud voices to make themselves heard.” Claiming that more people than ever before watch parliamentary proceedings in light of Brexit and that many found the House of Lords system confusing he called for a “fairer and more comprehensible” set up.

Lord Horam claimed the atmosphere in recent weeks has been “fractions and aggressive” and often resembled “embarrassing chaos”. He also claimed that newer members found the atmosphere intimidating meaning they avoided speaking at question time.

Lord Snape said the upper chamber could resemble a “bear garden”.

However leader of the House of Lords Baroness Evans, rejected calls for an official review into the proposal and told peers to take their proposals to the procedure committee.  


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