As the Government aims to see through a number of key pieces of legislation, Joshua Dawson writes that without the Lords onside, we could be seeing laws go back and forth for a long time.

Our democratic system has been the blueprint for many around the world. A system with checks and balances built into it so that domination in the lower house does not guarantee the ability to bring into law every piece of legislation you fancy. Almost every draft bill put before the house, barring pieces of emergency legislation such as the COVID bills, sees some back and forth, but what we are seeing at the moment is quite unusual.

The Health and Care Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill, among many recently, have seen amendments made in the Commons voted down by the Lords, or amendments made by Lords ready to be sent back to the lower house.

This has become an all too regular occurrence for Boris Johnson's liking, and one he will want to see resolved. The Lords are proving to be more effective opposition than Labour have been for the last seven years, and he does not want key policy to get bogged down in parliament.

The Prime Minister has made a big song and dance about his levelling up agenda, and the many aspects of policy that he will bring change to. Transport, health, business, net zero, all are seen as key to his flagship agenda. However, if Bills that relate to this get bogged down in parliamentary ping-pong, delaying their implementation and making any kind of tangible difference, it could prove vital when it comes to the next General Election in 2024.

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By then, voters will place far less importance on the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic (which could be a good or bad thing depending on your view). Given how they have shone the spotlight on levelling up, any failure to show positive results to voters, especially those in former 'red wall' and 'left behind' seats who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 hoping for change, could severely damage Conservative re-election prospects.

As well as worries about policy making it through, Boris also has to worry about the optics of this. Government policy is being defeated in the Lords on a very regular basis, and on some divisions, less than a third of Tory peers are voting. This means, as it did last week on voting on the Health and Care Bill, it takes very little opposition effort to bring about a defeat.

There are currently 256 Conservative peers in the Lords, many of whom have been appointed since the Conservatives won outright in 2015. Yet currently, Boris is faced either with peers who are not backing his party's legislation, or peers who simply can't be bothered to turn up and help get things through.

To those on the outside looking in, especially voters who may only hear 'Government legislation defeated again in the House of Lords' on the news before turning over, this does not bode well. If something happens once, you can forget about it, but if the words 'government' and 'defeated' keep on being repeated, that begins to stick in peoples' minds.

The Prime Minister has managed to navigate through the tempestuous waters that the 'Partygate' scandal brought with it, and, for the moment anyway, he has been given a second chance by his parliamentary colleagues to carry on with his post-pandemic policy goals. He now has to do all he can to get the Lords onside. It may mean compromise on his and his ministers' parts, but ultimately they have to think of the bigger picture. Voters in 2024 will not take the time to study the minutiae of parliamentary process over the last few years and how Bills came into law, they will only care that Bills did come into law.

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