House of Lords Reform

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:51 pm on 4th February 2003.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook Lord Privy Seal 12:51 pm, 4th February 2003

I beg to move,

That this House
approves Option 1 (fully appointed) in the First Report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform (HC 171).

I am conscious of the rich irony that that is the motion for an all-appointed second Chamber.

The other week, I found myself listening to a radio discussion on "Waiting for Godot". I believe that it was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first production of the play. I was struck by the fact that there is a real possibility that we could drift into House of Lords reform becoming our parliamentary equivalent of "Waiting for Godot", as it never arrives and some have become rather doubtful whether it even exists, but we sit around talking about it year after year. The first attempt to achieve reform of the second Chamber was made in 1911. In our case, this particular performance has been going on for much more than 40 years; it has lasted almost a century. Tonight, the House has an opportunity to bring down the curtain on what has been the longest political indecision in our history. It can make a conclusion and, I hope, a bold decision for a democratic second Chamber that belongs to this Chamber.