Report (3rd Day)

Part of Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 9th February 2011.

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Photo of Lord McNally Lord McNally Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords 7:30 pm, 9th February 2011

That is a very valid point that could be looked at. Successive Governments have relied on the goodwill of Members of this House to take on considerable duties and responsibilities. Again, I do not rule out looking at those matters. However, now is not the time to legislate on the issue. The reduction in the size of the other place will not come into effect until the next election in 2015. It would be much better to consider these questions closer to the time, when the parliamentary landscape will be much clearer. I assure noble Lords that we are looking at this question, but it does not need to be answered-and it would be wrong to answer it-in the Bill. Therefore, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, for tabling Amendment 27FA. The amendment is similar in principle to that tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, and the noble Lord, Lord Bach, so I shall be brief in my response. We are sympathetic to the intention of the amendment. The Government are keen to investigate the options for addressing the issue, and keen to hear any thoughts that noble Lords may have. We recognise the noble Lord's desire to limit the payroll vote. However, even with the provisions of the amendment, were the number of parliamentary private secretaries to be increased before a general election, a post-electoral reduction would not introduce the changes that the noble Lord intends. The issue needs further consideration and we cannot commit to making these provisions in the Bill.

We do not wish to see an increase in the payroll vote as a result of the Bill, but now is not the right time to legislate on the issue. The Government believe that it would be better to consider the issues after the change in the political landscape that will be brought about by the Bill has been made clearer. As I said, the issues raised are very real ones about the relationship between the Executive and Parliament, and even in eight months, the Government have established a record that means that the realism of the noble Lord, Lord Boateng, is more appropriate than the cynicism of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. We will address these matters and I ask the noble and learned Lord to withdraw his amendment.