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House of Lords Reform Bill — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:13 pm on 17th May 2011.

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Photo of Lord Dholakia Lord Dholakia Liberal Democrat 4:13 pm, 17th May 2011

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for repeating the Statement made earlier in the Commons by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. The Statement gives us an opportunity for the first time to focus attention on some of the key issues that this House has debated from time to time. I detect much amusement, but let us not forget that there are some very serious matters on which there is a general consensus in this House; for example, matters relating to the statutory Appointments Commission and the preservation of an independent element among its membership. The key point that we cannot forget is that this is a draft Bill accompanied by a White Paper. It is evolutionary and consultative in its content; it addresses the manifesto commitments, whether we like it or not, of all three parties; and it removes the suspicion and hype that have arisen from misrepresentation in some recent press articles.

The Statement rightly emphasises the options that exist for the political composition of the House and its elected elements. It offers options for the method of election and the numbers required effectively to carry out Lords functions. Let us not forget that it is not simply for this House to determine what it wants. The other House, too, has an interest in how this matter can be taken forward. Will the noble Lord ensure that the terms of reference of the Joint Committee provide for Members of both the House of Lords and the Commons to be consulted, so that it can take a constructive approach in reaching its final conclusions?