For what it's worth, lords say their house has functioned pretty well for centuries





LONDON -— Faced with the unpleasant prospect of actually having to run for office, members of the House of Lords declared Monday that their chamber had functioned pretty well without elections for hundreds of years and that there was no need to rush into anything now.

“It is, by definition, not elected,” said Lord Irvine of Lairg, speaking of the House of Lords, “but I do not accept the conclusion that it is illegitimate.”

He was taking part in one of the strangest debates in the Lords’ history, held in response to the House of Commons’s support last week of a plan to end government appointments to the House of Lords and to make it an all-elected body...

“The House of Lords is good at the job it does, and the country knows it,” Baroness Boothroyd said. “The future of our Parliament is at risk if we upset the balance between the two houses that has served this country well.”

They came by the dozens to the debate, the old, the less old, some leaning on canes, some looking half-asleep on the red leather benches, a small gaggle to the side wearing the flowing black-and-white robes of Church of England bishops. In all, more than 120 peers signed up to speak, in a debate that went late into the night and is to resume Tuesday.

The House of Lords now has 731 members, a majority chosen for life by the government of the day. On Wednesday, the peers are to vote on seven options for change, ranging from a fully appointed house to a fully elected house. Under an eighth plan, proposed by Lord Trefgarne, things would remain as they are.

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