House of Lords – Scotland and the EU

The House of Lords has been noticeably more active since reforms in 1999, but even more so since the 2015 election. Having already ready the childcare bill and tax credits, the government have found themselves facing two fairly major defeats in the Lords recently.

Firstly, peers voted in favour of extending the right to vote to 16 and 17 year olds in the EU referendum that is planned in defiance of the government. This is really useful for any question on democracy as the unelected (and therefore undemocratic?) House is the one voting in favour of extending democracy!

Secondly the Lords have called for a hold on the Scotland Bill, which looks to change the relationship between Westminster and Holyrood (devo-max), until a financial settlement is completed. This is despite the fact that the bill has already passed the Commons.

All of these examples show the precarious position that the Government is in; a majority of 12 is very weak and could arguably mean that government’s mandate is very poor (especially with just 36% of people voting Conservative, and that’s just 36% of the 66% that turned out!). Therefore the Lords is not only more willing but is also more able to challenge the government. A discussion over whether it is right for them to do so would be useful in any debate over Parliament and Government, or in the Democracy topic of Unit 1. It also has links to the Constitution as much of this growth of power can be directly linked to the 1999 reforms which seems to have made the Lords believe they are more legitimate.