Yesterday’s Radio 4 “Beyond Westminster” programme, “A Touch of Ermine” contained an interesting discussion featuring Mehdi Hasan and Meg Russell debating the role of patronage in British politics and the future of the House of Lords.

I provide some local colour being interviewed by Michael Dobbs (author of “House of Cards”) recorded over coffee on the Lords Terrace last month (with the extraneous noises of the police helicopter and motor launches edited out, along with my response to one question “As somebody once said, you might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment”).

I thought two important points emerged.  The first was (I said it, so it must be important) that we have not yet had the debate about what we want the Second Chamber of Parliament to do – and that really needs to take place before we embark on the next round of reform.  The second came from Meg Russell who pointed out that electing the Second Chamber would not necessarily remove the element of patronage from who become members of the new Chamber.

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