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Democracy, Parliament, Parties, Prime Minister & Cabinet, Unit 1, Unit 2

House of Lords defeats the government again…

The House of Lords defeated the government on its proposal to cap benefits at £26000. This is what can be described as a multi- purpose example, working for Unit 1 and Unit 2.

While the Lords will claim this is evidence that an unelected chamber has its uses (doing the right thing in the face of populism- preventing a ‘tyranny of the majority’, without the risk of being thrown out by the same majority), it could also be argued that in the absence of the normal application of the Salisbury Convention the unelected chamber is going against the will of the people (Democratic Deficit- Unit 1).

It also evidences the growing conflict between the two chambers. It is the 29th defeat inflicted on the coalition by the House of Lords (full details of the rebellions can be found at the UCL Constitution Unit Blog http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/parliament/house-of-lords/lords-defeats– excellent exemplification for any Unit 2 question on the House of Lords.)

The defeat on the welfare cap was primarily the result of the Lib Dem peers abstaining or voting against the government. If this becomes a pattern and the Lib Dem whips in the Lords can’t reassert control this could lead to problems for future coalition legislation. Another option would of course be the creation of new Conservative peers (as hinted at by Lord Berkeley in the House of Lords this week). If Cameron does ‘pack’ the House it will provide a great example for the democratic deficit topic in Unit 1.




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