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Compassionate, wise, orderly – if only the Lords were elected | Aida Edemariam

Of course peers suffer from a democratic deficit. But it’s great listening to people who actually know what they are talking about

I never thought I’d say this, but here goes: I recommend a visit to the House of Lords. True, there’s pomp. You have to report to Black Rod to be allowed to sit on the narrow, slippy red benches in the gallery and to look around a grand room, attempting to recognise figures prominent in the news 15 years ago by the tops of their heads. And there’s little help from the red TV screens with squint-small type: is that Lord Bowen or Brown? Lord B of what? Something long, three words, begins with E. Still, the pomp is matched by the particular and the homely: a voice quavering with age as well as conviction; Baroness Lawrence keeping warm with a scarf spread across her lap.

And yes, of course the Lords is bloated — the 45 new peers (mostly Conservative) appointed in the most recent dissolution honours list took the membership to 826, a legislative population eclipsed only by the National People’s Congress of China – but the number of attendees in the course of a year is half that.

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