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Queen’s Speech — Debate (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:03 pm on 9th May 2013.

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Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat 4:03 pm, 9th May 2013

My Lords, I wish to speak to the constitutional aspect of this debate and about the volume and complexity of legislation. I am encouraged to do so because it has preoccupied me since before I came into this House 15 years ago. I suppose that is partly, if not mainly, because I have been a general practitioner solicitor for a great part of my life and was for 24 years what was called the “legal eagle” on “The Jimmy Young Show”, fielding citizens’ concerns about the law from all round the kingdom. The other thing that has encouraged me to talk about this matter briefly is the report—I do not know how many of your Lordships have seen it—When Laws Become Too Complex, put out by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in March. I am not aware that a similar report on legislation has ever been produced by parliamentary draftsmen themselves. It is an important and readable document, and I urge it upon your Lordships.

The other encouragement for my few brief words is the state of politics in our country. That was manifested clearly by the local elections last week. Surprisingly, one may think, it is impossible to obtain from anywhere the level of turnout at those elections. It is quite bizarre, is it not? It is apparently left to two academics at Portsmouth University