Motion to Take Note (2nd Day)

Part of Draft House of Lords Reform Bill – in the House of Lords at 11:36 am on 1st May 2012.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Lord in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 11:36 am, 1st May 2012

My Lords, the reference in volume 3 is indeed not to whether the Parliament Acts would be used, it is merely to the relevance of the Parliament Acts, but if the Government produce a Bill, we will of course return to the issue.

There is a wider context here, and I want to start with that. Many Peers have referred to the constitution as a whole. We need to be conscious of the mood beyond Westminster and the attitudes of the public to our democratic institutions. One newspaper last week, I forget whether it was the Times or the Guardian, talked about a crisis of confidence in public elites-that is to say, in politicians, journalists, media proprietors, bankers, hedge funders and the like. The Audit of Political Engagement, which has just been published, talks about our public as disillusioned, disgruntled and disengaged. Less than one-quarter of those polled think that our current system of government works well. Disillusion and disengagement is strongest among the young. I have just read Peter Kellner's long piece on a large YouGov survey held in January this year in which he says:

"What emerges is a picture of massive discontent that goes far beyond a dislike of particular politicians, parties and policies ... Unless action is taken to restore the reputation of our political system, its very legitimacy may be at risk".

The survey asked respondents what they liked or disliked among a list of political groups and institutions. Dislike of the way that Peers are selected to be Members of the House of Lords comes second equal in terms of hostility with,

"the quality of our political parties", and behind only,

"the quality of our politicians".