In the United Kingdom, the venerable House of Lords in the hot seat

Prince William (left), Prince Charles (centre) and Camilla (right) at the official opening of Parliament at the House of Lords in London on 10 May. BEN STANSALL/AFP

QUESTION – With 800 members, this congregation is subject to controversy. Its parliamentarians for life are co-opted according to an “honour list” drawn up by the Prime Minister, often in exchange for services rendered. The project to reform it, an ancient sea serpent, resurfaces.

Correspondent in London

The comparison is bold and unappreciated within the venerable institution. The English press recently compared the House of Lords to the Chinese National People’s Congress. The two legislative bodies are actually the most bloated in the world and both consist of unelected parliamentarians… The upper house of the British Parliament is certainly a far cry from the 3000 representatives of the Beijing Assembly, but it still has around 800 members, a record in Western democracies. And the latter are appointed in a strange and undemocratic way, often in gratitude for political services rendered.

It is precisely this method of appointment that has just put the Upper House back in the spotlight. The tradition is that each outgoing Prime Minister draws up an “honour list”, making the Lord a certain number of allies. These lucky “chosen ones” become parliamentarians for life. The process is going for Boris Johnson, but…

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