Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Lords at 1:15 am on 7th April 2010.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Howarth of Newport Lord Howarth of Newport Labour 1:15 am, 7th April 2010

My Lords, it is deeply regrettable that the opportunity has not been taken to pursue these modest measures that the noble Lord, Lord Steel, has so helpfully tabled on a number of occasions for your Lordships' consideration. Today, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said to the country that it would be the intention of a future Labour Government to reform the House of Lords root and branch and that there should be an elected second Chamber. He has also made it clear that, following the removal of the hereditary principle, the introduction of an elected Chamber should take place by stages and that at least a further two general elections following the one about to take place would need to have occurred before that transition was complete. On the other hand, Mr Cameron has said that reform of the House of Lords would be a matter for a third term of a Conservative Government.

On any basis, we will continue with an appointed House for a considerable number of years to come. It is therefore important to realise that what the noble Lord, Lord Steel, has termed as running repairs, but which are significant reforms, are necessary to make an appointed House respectable and effective in the way that surely all of us desire that it should be. That must be in the interests of Parliament and the Government of this country. It really matters that these changes should be introduced.

It is pretty cynical to decline to implement reforms that have been extensively debated and clearly make sense in the context of an appointed House in order to present the appointed House as somehow disreputable. I do not think that that is a proper way to treat this House of Parliament. It is a great shame and greatly to be deplored that the Government have decided not to act on what they had previously intended to do, for which, I believe, they would have had extensive support across the House, with a real possibility of achieving these changes.