Committee (and remaining stages)

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

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Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative 1:15 am, 7th April 2010

My Lords, it is a particular pleasure to support the Government yet again, because they have been sensible over this. We have really got to get this thing right. A lot of absurd arguments have been put forward on one side. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, has said, "After all, I put this thing forward once, twice, three times and why should it not be made law?". That is his bad luck. The law of the country is not just changed; you do not change the constitution because one person happens to be fairly persuasive and obdurate about it.

It would have been a great mistake if the Government had undertaken a huge change-let us make no mistake, it is a huge change-in the wash-up. These things take a tremendous amount of care and thought before great decisions are arrived at. It is all very fine for the noble Lord, Lord Howarth of Newport, to say that he thinks that the whole thing is a farce. What makes a hereditary Peer any worse than he is? He was only appointed by someone. He scratched someone's back and someone said, "All right, I will appoint you". Hereditary Peers have not been appointed by anyone other than the Almighty. The noble Lord cannot just go around saying, "I have been appointed, so I am going to wash everyone else out of the system". The presence of the hereditary Peers-I say this with a great deal of modesty and I exclude myself-does a great deal of good. That is because their presence retains the House of Lords as it is. Once you get rid of the hereditary Peers, it will be a free-for-all. Someone may say, "There are no hereditary Peers. Let us have them all elected".