By Ray Fleming THE American constitution provides for no equivalent of Britain's House of Lords where former prime ministers and other distinguished contributors to society can extend their influence beyond their electoral appeal in an atmosphere of courtesy and restrained debate. In the United States “elder statesmen” have often had to find vacant space on the boards of governors of universities or of prominent charities. But the recent creation of a National Institute for Civil Discourse opens new possibilities for people like former presidents George Bush Sr and Bill Clinton, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to continue to make a contribution to the political arena as founding members of the Institute. This new body is a direct response to the outcry against the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at Tucson and President Obama subsequent eloquent appeal for greater civility in US politics. There is always room for blunt speaking in politics but in both the United States and Britain in recent years a line has too often been crossed into crude abuse and personal attack. Although Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons may be a special case it has been disappointing to see how quickly the normally courteous David Cameron has forgotten his earlier plea for the “punch and judy” element of Commons' Question Time to be dropped. The rowdy behaviour of back benchers on both sides is to be deplored.