Meet the Lords, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews
Meet the Lords, BBC Two
Meet the Lords, BBC Two
Was it really wise to let TV cameras loose inside 'the other place'?
To Westminster and Meet the Lords, a series which Radio Times assures me follows “the larger-than-life characters” in one of our “most idiosyncratic and important institutions”. Obviously it was shot well before the current Brexit deliberations in the Lords, and this first of three films was largely concerned with the passage of the government’s housing bill last year. This perhaps offered a taste of what their Lord and Ladyships hope to do with Brexit, as they roused themselves indignantly from their post-prandial slumbers against aspects of the housing legislation, and forced the government to make at least one concession.
Rather in the same way that we don’t have a written constitution, it’s quite difficult to grasp precisely what the Lords can and can’t do. Quite a few of them don’t do anything except eat, drink and sleep. Several of them explained earnestly that they subject shoddily-written legislation from the Commons to thorough and forensic scrutiny. They “hold the government to account”, apparently. The Lib Dems, almost entirely purged from the Commons at the last election, are nonetheless aiming to use their 109 unelected peers on anti-Brexit manoeuvres. Yet, by using the Parliament Act, the government can legitimately ignore everything the Lords says, though it may incur a delay in getting its bills passed if it does so.
There’s an unmistakeable whiff of Jonathan Swift about the whole set-up, and not just the hilarious costumes and pantomimic rituals. The fellow who calls himself “Garter” and dresses up like a pack of playing cards was especially mirthtastic. Lord Tyler, evidently a heretic of some standing, averred that the Lords is “the best daycare centre for the elderly in London.” Most of them are over 70, and the oldest is 96. Probably 97 by now.
You have to wonder who all this is in aid of. A chap called Lord Borwick, an Old Etonian and hereditary peer, is a big-time property developer, and has taken a major interest in simplifying proposed planning laws to make it easier to build houses. Might that possibly be a conflict of interest, queried an unseen interviewer? Good lord no. Lord Borwick explained that he was “using my expertise to make the bill better”.
The former Oona King MP scornfully declared how ridiculous the ceremonial aspect of the Lords is, though not quite ridiculous enough to put her off becoming Baroness King of Bow (pictured). Thus be-robed, she successfully rallied support against the government’s proposed benefits cap for adopted children, because she herself has three adopted children. A good cause perhaps, but the impression that this was more about self-interest than the public good was impossible to avoid. Having done that, the Baroness then swanned off to California to take a nice job with YouTube.
Lord Prescott, the Labour dinosaur previously known as “Two Jags”, summed up what many viewers may have been thinking: “You get a parking space, a restaurant, a bar...” And 300 quid a day, of course.
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