The House of Lords is, as the political commentators are keen to point out, the second largest legislative chamber in the world. The largest is in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people, compared with the 64 billion people of the United Kingdom.
It shows just how much the United Kingdom’s politicians and its establishment love patronage; they love it more than democracy.
Many defend the House of lords, claiming it does a good job of work. I am not so sure about that. The great and the good, as defined by the great and the good, become members of the House of Lords. They can dress up in fine clothes, give themselves titles so that the rest of us can know how great and good they are, and they can be paid for attending, and doing little else. Their large numbers make it difficult for any member to contribute openly to a debate so it seems that much of their “work” is done in corridors and restaurants and bars.
The members’ food and drink is subsidised; the House claims
“The unique nature and working practices of the House of Lords means an operating loss on catering facilities is inevitable. The unpredictable nature of Parliamentary business and the House not sitting every week of the year requires a higher level of labour resources than would be the case in dedicated catering venues and therefore catering services operate with a subsidy.”
Why shouldn’t the House sit every week of the year? Most other businesses are open every week of the year.
Most people in the nation cannot eat or drink at the public trough; the claim given above does not justify a subsidy. I cannot buy (unlike the Lords) a fillet of Sea Bream for £3.50 nor can I but vegetables to accompany it at 55 pence a portion. Those prices are probably below the cost of the uncooked food. But the great and the good know that they do deserve subsidies, and make sure that they get them.
Perhaps the subsidies are to encourage the members to put on weight; political leaders want their legislature to be fat; people with a lean and hungry look are dangerous; they think too much.