House of Lords Reform

– in the House of Lords at 3:10 pm on 4th February 2003.

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Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords 3:10 pm, 4th February 2003

My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Lords reform has been quite a long story; today's votes in both Houses are not, of course, the end of it. It is possible that today may be decisive and will determine the broad shape of the House in the future.

I will say something about today's procedure. I remind your Lordships that, when the noble Lord, Lord Renton, intervened a few days ago and suggested that 15 hours and 98 speakers might approach a reasonable sufficiency—

Noble Lords:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

There was that sort of growl of approval. After any speeches, I shall formally move all seven Motions in turn. As I reminded the House a few days ago, a vote for one option does not pre-empt any of your Lordships from voting for any other options or indeed, should your Lordships so desire, for all of them.

Tellers will have to be appointed, and voices on both sides will be heard in the Chamber at the three-minute mark in the usual way. All of us are free to vote "Content" or "Not Content" to as many of the Motions as we choose. Your Lordships will remember that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, speaking, I think, on behalf of the Joint Committee, asked us to give our views on each of the options. Voting "Content" would mean, therefore, that one would regard that option as acceptable—not necessarily the best, but, at least, acceptable. Voting "Not Content" means that one would regard that particular option as not acceptable.

I shall vote for a 100 per cent elected down to 50 per cent elected House and against all other offers.

Moved, That this House approves Option 1 (fully appointed) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Conservative

My Lords, I rise to say only one or two things. As the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House correctly said, we are going to have seven very important votes. I hope that noble Lords will approach those votes with a sense that they are all significant. I can confirm from this part of the House—something that is echoed in all parts of the House—that it will be a genuinely free vote. I do not really need to say "genuinely" because, in our party, all free votes are genuinely free votes. There has been one important change since we debated the matter: the Prime Minister has said that he is not in favour of elections, and noble Lords should, therefore, be aware that, almost whatever happens, there is unlikely to be any legislation this side of the next general election.

The noble and learned Lord said how he was going to vote. I hope that, at the end of the debate, the Joint Committee will be asked to work up at least more than one option, to give us a further choice. We have time on our side. Just as I did in 1999, I will vote against an appointed House that has not a single guarantee or safeguard attached to it. Equally, I will vote for Option 4, which preserves the independent Cross Benches but allows for election of the political House. I hope that the Joint Committee will study the practicality of elections as a whole. We can then return to consideration of those detailed options and carry our debate further.

The House has won respect for its famously open mind. I hope today that we will not close our minds finally to alternative futures and that, as the Prime Minister leaps forward so eagerly to grasp the appointed House that we denied him in 1999, some noble Lords, at least, will ask themselves the old Roman question: cui bono?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Crosby Baroness Williams of Crosby Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

My Lords, I do not intend to make a speech beyond saying that we should vote for the future. I call on other noble Lords not to make speeches either.

Photo of Lord Bruce of Donington Lord Bruce of Donington Labour

My Lords, I shall give a short explanation of the vote that I propose to make, which is in favour of Option 1. My reason for so doing is that I do not believe that this House should at any point challenge the power of the House of Commons. There should be no electoral challenge to the House of Commons.

I draw the House's attention to paragraph 75 of the committee's report, which says:

"The appointed element should be nominated by a new independent statutory Appointments Commission whose principal function would be to ensure a quality of representativeness and regional balance in the reformed House".

I believe in that, which is why I propose to support Option 1.

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 335; Not-Contents, 110.

Division number 1

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Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, however, I now move Motion No. 2: fully elected.

Moved, That this House approves Option 2 (fully elected) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 106; Not-Contents, 329.

Division number 2

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I beg to move the third Motion standing in my name: 80 per cent appointed/20 per cent elected.

Moved, That this House approves Option 3 (80 per cent appointed/20 per cent elected) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 3) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 39; Not-Contents, 375.

Division number 3

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I beg to move the fourth Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper: 80 per cent elected/20 per cent appointed.

Moved, That this House approves Option 4 (80 per cent elected/20 per cent appointed) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 4) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 93; Not-Contents, 338.

Division number 4

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I beg to move the fifth Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper: 60 per cent appointed/40 per cent elected.

Moved, That this House approves Option 5 (60 per cent appointed/40 per cent elected) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 5) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 60; Not-Contents, 358.

Division number 5

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I beg to move the sixth Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper: 60 per cent elected/40 per cent appointed.

Moved, That this House approves Option 6 (60 per cent elected/40 per cent appointed) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, whether the said Motion (Option 6) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 91; Not-Contents, 317.

Division number 6

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

Photo of Lord Williams of Mostyn Lord Williams of Mostyn President of the Council, Privy Council Office, Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Lords

My Lords, I beg to move the final Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper: 50 per cent appointed/50 per cent elected.

Moved, That this House approves Option 7 (50 per cent appointed/50 per cent elected) in the report from the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Whether the said Motion (Option 7) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 84; Not-Contents, 322.

Division number 7

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Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.