[thechat] House of Lords (was: US Elections)

Paul Cowan evolt at funkwit.com
Thu Nov 7 23:14:01 CST 2002

Erik wrote:
> Trying to answer my own question ... Lord Shawcross was born in
> April, 1902? Christ.

Well, the USA has Strom thurmond (http://thurmond.senate.gov/),
a 99-year old senator (he turns 100 next month). As I understand
it, he's retiring in the just-finished lot of elections, but I
think he remains a senator until the new one is sworn in (someone
who actually lives in the US feel free to correct me here), so
maybe he'll make the ton before he leaves?

> So it seems in a way they're similar to the US's Supreme Court? Can
> they really prevent legislation from going through?

They are more like (again, correct me if I'm wrong), the US senate.

They are the upper house of Britain's bicameral parliament: until
fairly recently, they were either hereditary or life peers (in the
case of life peers, the peerage finishes when your life does, if you
catch my drift).

Anything the US senate does (as I understand it), the house of lords
can do -- though Blair has greatly lopped their powers, because let's
face it, there wouldn't be many people left who didn't consider something
like that an anachronism. I understand some of the positions are now
filled by elections, and there are _far_ fewer lords than there used to
be (attrition may play a part here).

I've probably ballsed this up, but the Australian media has been following
the house of lords debate in the kind of bemused way that the Australian
media reserve to cover any quaint old british anachronism (cf.: the
queen's ability to drop prosecution against Paul Burrell), at least
until they realise that we're in the same boat, thanks to our weird
semi-dependent status. I mean, we only dropped the right of appeal
to privy council from the Australian legal system in... what... 1986,
I think?

> until now, I thought they were just a bunch of old poofters who
> liked to be listened to in sort of an honorary fashion.
> Is it different than that? How?

Some of them are young poofters now.

(ba-doomp-boomp. I kid, seriously).


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