Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A rotten house

House of Lords reform hit a roadblock in the UK today, with a Tory rebellion causing the government to withdraw its timetable for the bill. Which in English means that the bill may never be debated. Meanwhile, the Guardian shows us exactly why reform (or abolition) is necessary: because the Lords are institutionally corrupt and owned by the banks. Fully one sixth of them have declared themselves to be in the pay of the finance industry, with an unknown number in unpaid "advisory" positions (meaning they will be being rewarded under the table). And the banks get their money's worth:

Committees scrutinising issues vital to the financial services industry are also packed with lords with links to the [finance] sector. Four of the 11 members of the Lords committee set up to consider the 2011 finance bill, for example, held positions in banks, and a fifth was about to join a bank. The Finance Act gave large tax breaks to businesses with offshore interests, including multinational banks and insurers.
Obviously, those Lords all had a strong conflict of interest. But the UK's Parliamentary rules are so backwards that they were not required to recuse themselves. The result is tainted legislation, which appears to have been bought and paid for.

This entire institution is rotten and needs to be expunged, and the UK's democracy dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century (hell, the 20th would be an improvement). And it speaks volumes that the Conservative Party opposes that.