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Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill — Committee (14th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:45 pm on 26th January 2011.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Leader of the House of Lords and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 10:45 pm, 26th January 2011

I am glad to have got that right.

What about the ramifications of all of this? For example, it might seem an odd consequence if we were to reduce the number of Ministers in one House by increasing the number in the other, which is this House. That is the point that my noble friend Lord Tyler made and was right to make. He put it extremely well. In fact, there was an echo of what the noble Lord, Lord Myners, said about his experience in Government. Currently, of course, there are far fewer Ministers in the House of Lords than in the Commons but we ought to think carefully about how the distribution of Ministers might be affected by any changes to the size of the second Chamber or by the introduction of elected Members. That is something which the Government, in conjunction with the Opposition, are putting their mind to at the moment. There is also an argument about the separation of powers but I shall not make a case for that now.

It is possible that arguments might then be made for a smaller ministerial presence in the second Chamber, to allow for more Back-Bench voices. Equally, it is possible that arguments might be made for a greater ministerial presence to help the House to hold the Executive to account. Both arguments can be made-or neither-and we should wait for another opportunity before coming to a firm view on all of this. Ultimately, we want to be governed by the principle that the number of Ministers must be a function of need.