The other former Tory cabinet ministers [besides Geoffrey Howe and Norman Lamont] who signed the letter are the former Northern Ireland secretary and party chairman Peter Brooke, the former Scottish secretary Michael Forsyth, the former agriculture minister Michael Jopling, the former transport secretary John MacGregor, the former attorney general Patrick Mayhew, the former Scottish secretary Ian Lang and former environment, industry and social security secretary Patrick Jenkin. Another signatory is the former Liberal leader David Steel.A man who devoted his life to campaigning against complacent Toryism has joined its ranks.
If you doubt me, just see what the Liberal manifesto said in the three general elections in which Steel was the party's leader.
The House of Lords should be replaced by a new, democratically chosen, second chamber which includes representatives of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom, and UK members of the European Parliament.1983 (this and 1987 were joint documents published with the SDP)
In the light of these deficiencies in the structure of government, we propose ... to increase the accountability of Government to Parliament by reforming the operation and procedures of the House of Commons, to make its control of the executive more effective and to reform the powers and composition of the House of Lords, which must include a significant elected element representative of the nations and regions of Britain.1987
"In recent years the House of Lords has proved the value of a second chamber by its careful scrutiny of bills which got little attention in the Commons and by its willingness to defeat the government on issues of national concern. But there can be no justification for basing the membership of the second chamber so largely on heredity and on the whim of Prime Ministers. The Alliance will work towards a reform of the second chamber linked with our devolution proposals so that it will include members elected from the regions and nations of Britain and will phase out the rights of hereditary peers to vote in the Lords."If Steel has better ideas for bringing about a more democratic House of Lords than those Nick Clegg has brought forward then by all means let him propose them. The House of Lords, after all, is meant to be a revising chamber. But this cosying up with the opponents of a political lifetime does him no credit.
It is hard to resist the question: "So, unelected peer David Steel, what made you decide that unelected peers are a good idea?"