The House of Lords is nothing more than a "gilded poop scoop" that clears up the mess made by MPs in the Commons, former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown has said.
Speaking during a debate on the government's plans to create an elected second chamber, Lord Ashdown said the House of Lords needed to be reformed as it was currently "fundamentally infringes the fundamental principle of a democratic state".
The Lib Dem peer said the Lords was simply a creature of the executive stuffed with political appointees placed there to do minister's bidding.
"We are graciously permitted to follow along with a gilded poop scoop, clearing up the the mess behind the elephant at the other end of the corridor," he said.
"But when it comes to stopping the elephant doing things, when it comes to turning them round ... on the really big things that matter we do not succeed."
"We are place-men here," he said. "I thought that went out with the Stuart kings.
"We are the creatures of patronage, there are only two ways to get in, one is if you are friend of the prime minister, the other is if your great grandmother slept with the King."
Lord Ashdown, who served in the British special forces before entering parliament, said it was wrong that British soldiers were beging asked to die to defend democracy abroad when it did not truly exist at home.
Under plans due to be introduced by Nick Clegg the current House of Lords will be replaced by a 80% elected 450-member chamber.