Constitutional Renewal — Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:55 pm on 11th June 2009.

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Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Constitutional Affairs 2:55 pm, 11th June 2009

My Lords, by my reckoning there are several minutes until our three and a half hours are up, but even if I took up every minute I could not do justice to all the contributions that have been made to this debate. I heartily endorse what the Minister has just said: we will all read Hansard tomorrow with exceptional care. It is customary to say that there has been a thoughtful and thought-provoking debate, but this one genuinely has been. I will look at every contribution with great care tomorrow. I hope that others will, too. It would perhaps be invidious to take up time in pointing out particular contributions, but I am particularly grateful to the two right reverend Prelates for their speeches, which were very interesting. As the Minister said, it has been a terrific debate and I am grateful to all who have contributed.

I go back to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth. He said that there is a crisis of confidence in the political class. That is the background to our debate, but I would argue that it is not just about individuals but about the institutions that give rise to the political class. That is how they get there. It is the whole context in which those people come to those roles. We cannot simply divorce the two. We cannot simply deal with the present crisis, to which my noble friend Lord Wallace referred so eloquently, of a lack of confidence and trust in individuals. There is also a lack of trust in the institutions that those individuals occupy.

There is an interesting and notable correlation between those who sit in the safest seats in the other place and those who seem to have made the most excessive expense claims. That is backed up by academic research, so we cannot simply leave the issue of safe seats on one side and look only at the immediate expenses crisis.