People's Peers

Oral Answers to Questions — President of the Council – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th January 2001.

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Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle 12:00 am, 30th January 2001

How many application packs were sent out to aspiring people's peers; and how many were returned (a) complete and (b) incomplete. [146222]

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

I understand that about 13,000 packs were sent out in response to expressions of interest. Some 3,141 nominations were received by 17 November, of which about 300 arrived via the internet. I understand that only two were deliberately incomplete, and that some other people omitted details by oversight, which the Commission has followed up with the nominees.

Photo of Gordon Prentice Gordon Prentice Labour, Pendle

Those are fascinating figures—30,000 putative people's peers and 3,141 people who actually replied. Of that number, only eight "outstanding individuals"—in the words of the Appointments Commission—will be selected in the next eight weeks and given ermine. Is it not the case those eight so-called people's peers can never be representative of Britain? We are creating a legislative joke. Is it not possible, even at this late stage, to join forces with the Liberal Democrats and some Conservative Members to create a legislature that is fit for the 21st century so that we do not persist with this Gormenghast creation?

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

Those are fascinating comments. I am delighted to hear calls from Pendle—of all places—to work in co-operation with the Liberal Democrats. It has really changed up there.

I know that my hon. Friend is a contender for parliamentarian of the year, but I must gently correct his figures: 13,000 people applied for packs. I am not confident that there will be eight nominees—that is yet to be decided—but I am confident that the new procedure will create an Upper House that is more balanced and representative of the community in which we live.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce Conservative, South Dorset

If the system is so good and there are so many applicants, why do we not simply select all the people to serve in the other place and get rid of the lot who are there right now—or would that reduce the income of the Labour party.

Photo of Paddy Tipping Paddy Tipping Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office

The hon. Gentleman needs to remember that 29 per cent. of Members of the Upper House are from the Labour party. He should reflect on his party's record because other people have not forgotten it.