Constitutional Renewal — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:12 pm on 10th June 2009.

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Photo of Lord Soley Lord Soley Labour 4:12 pm, 10th June 2009

My Lords, I reiterate my long-standing support for the implication in the Statement that we will at last have a way of setting the expenses, allowances and, in the case of the House of Commons, salaries independently of the two Houses. With the best will in the world, the House of Commons—I do not think that it has happened here so much—has often tried to amend recommendations on the Floor, which is one of the things that have gone wrong. It is not the failure of character of Members of either House in total; it is a failure of character of a small number of people of both parties. But, above all, it is a failure of the system. The independent approach is the critically important way forward. As my noble friend has said, we are—if you will pardon the phrase—very cheap to run. Not only are we very cheap to run, but we do not have a salary, which is why, in a sense, the public need to have confidence in a system of independently assessing our allowances.

Finally, perhaps I may remind my noble friend of something that I suspect she knows. With the election of a new Speaker in the House of Commons and the fact that we have a Speaker here now, and given what the Government are saying about the reform of this House, it is very important that both Houses are advised and, in some cases, educated about the role of each House. There is a strong case for the two Speakers to be able to enhance and protect the role of this House, as long as we give our Speaker some flexibility in discussing the proposals that eventually come forth. They will be more influential in many cases than party leaders.