Clause 1 — Expulsion and suspension of Members of the House of Lords

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:31 am on 6th March 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Justice) 11:31 am, 6th March 2015

As I said earlier, I have supported the Bill at every stage so I can add my congratulations to those who have enabled its passage through to the statute book, including Baroness Hayman and Sir George Young, who—with his customary modesty—is not taking credit for it, although he should. I do not know where it stands in his legion of achievements in his many years in the House—that is a matter for historians to judge. As I have noted recently, he has been an excellent MP for North West Hampshire because of the excellent grounding that he got as an MP in Acton. He is one of the best things to have come out of Acton and we can perhaps therefore say that the Bill is, indirectly, another good thing that has come out of Acton.

We welcome the Bill. It is relatively modest in its ambition, but it is important, and those tend to be the two criteria that get private Member’s Bills on to the statute book. It is important that proper measures are in place to deal with suspension and expulsion in the other place, although of course the Bill is no substitute for the bigger and wider reforms—to which the Labour party remains committed and which we hope to see in the next Parliament—of hereditary peers and, as Mr Chope mentioned, the size of the other place. Some 116 coalition peers have been created since May 2010 at a cost of some £15 million a year. I am not sure that I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion that this Bill is a Trojan horse for mass defenestration of peers as a way of reducing their number: we will have to find another way to do that, and to introduce some democracy into the other place. I remind the House that substantial steps were taken by the last Labour Government, including reducing the number of hereditary peers to 92; people’s peers; the first elected Speaker; the creation of the Supreme Court, which separated off the judiciary; and the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission. We are, however, still looking for the essential formula for a democratically elected second Chamber, and I hope that we will adopt our proposal for a senate of the nations and regions. That is for the future. For the moment, I repeat our view that this is a good Bill and it is good that it will become law.