Friday 10 February 2017 4:01 am

As government plays down its threat to abolish the House of Lords over Article 50, is it time for it to go anyway?

Christopher Snowdon is head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs
and Chris Rumfitt Rumfitt
Chris Rumfitt is founder and chief executive of Field Consulting.

Chris Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, says Yes.

There was a time when the House of Lords defended our ancient liberties against mendacious governments. The whole idea of unelected politicians is problematic. In a perfect world, we would have democracy and liberty but, if I may speak candidly, so long as we’ve got liberty I can live without the democracy.

Today, alas, the House of Lords stands for neither. By replacing hereditary peers with government cronies, we created a shadow state that stands for the political fads of the day rather than the freedoms built up over centuries.

If we must have unelected peers I would rather they were there because one of their ancestors was mates with Henry IV than because they gave some money to the Labour Party.

Instead of challenging the political class, the “reformed” House of Lords reinforces it. It does what our elected representatives would like to do if they did not have to face the voters. Off with their heads.

Chris Rumfitt, founder and chief executive of Field Consulting, says No.

Of all the things said and done over the Brexit debate, there can be few more outrageous than the government’s threat to abolish the House of Lords if it doesn’t “do as it’s told” in passing the Article 50 legislation.

While the threat has been withdrawn, the comments tell us much as to how the government thinks.

A second chamber is imperative to a functioning democracy, and almost every country has a house which initiates policy, and another one which revises and scrutinises. Yes, the Lords is flawed. So reform it, make it more democratic and make it more effective. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Britain needs a revising chamber to curb the inevitable excesses of the lower house. And there are few better examples of that “excess” than the passage of a Bill which gives the government a blank cheque on Brexit, which the Commons allowed through without one single amendment. More power to the peers’ elbow!