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Queen's Speech — Debate (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:10 pm on 27th May 2010.

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Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat 2:10 pm, 27th May 2010

I am not yet in a position to give any undertaking on behalf of the Prime Minister. I hope that I will be given injury time, because I seem to be provoking a certain amount of difference.

I sincerely hope that my colleagues and friends on the opposite side of the House and in the other place will not fall into thinking that we are simply back where we were before 6 May. The electorate have spoken and I very much hope that the new leader of the Labour Party will not dance to the tune of Labour reactionaries in both Houses. We need cohesion but also continuity and consistency in this Parliament if we are to deal with the economic problems that our nation faces. It is simply untrue, as has been suggested, that somehow any form of electoral reform will necessarily lead to an increase in the occasions when we have no overall majority in the other place. As Professor John Curtice, the most influential of all psephologists, has pointed out, first past the post is likely to deliver that, too.

We had the 2008 White Paper on Lords reform and there was a great deal of agreement. I hope that we can build on that and I understand and undertake to pursue as fast as I am able to-as one Member of your Lordships' House-the idea that the next full stage should be done as a public discussion of the options that still remain within the context of pre-legislative scrutiny. The great advantage of that is that the public can be involved, in a public way, in a discussion of the options. Relatively few issues need to be resolved, but it is not fair, right or proper for Members of your Lordships' House to suggest that we are rushing into this. I remind them that your Lordships' House and the other place passed the Parliament Act 1911 with the preamble that it would,

"substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis".

That has hardly been rushed.

Finally, I turn to the role of your Lordships' House. Yes, of course we need to undertake the most effective scrutiny on all these issues. There should be no shilly-shally. That is quite right. However, since the coalition has now guaranteed that it will pursue the whole Tony Wright agenda for reforms of the Commons, it is surely right that the exercise referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, and others, stimulated by the Lord Speaker under the title "Strengthening Parliament", should be advanced as quickly as it can be. I, too, was glad to hear what was said from the Front Bench.

The contribution by the noble Lord, Lord Bichard, and the contribution over many months by the Institute for Government on improving the way in which we operate-both Houses, all Parliament working together holding the Executive to account-demand a radical review. I hope that that will happen, because the core problem of restoring public trust and confidence remains with us.