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House of Lords Reform — Motion to Take Note (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:48 pm on 15th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Conservative 4:48 pm, 15th September 2015

I am very happy to be corrected later on, perhaps by the Leader of the House.

More importantly, I am not sure that numbers have ever counted for much in the House of Lords. In every single Parliament between 1945 and 2001, Labour were in a small minority in the House, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet, when in government they were always able to carry the Queen’s business—as did the Conservative Party—but perhaps more important than that, when in opposition they were extremely effective. In fact, I have always thought that the Labour Party was better in opposition in the House of Lords than in government.

One of the reasons for that is that we all recognise the limits of our power in the House of Lords. Yet, this century we have been testing the limits of that power. While we as a House might have become more relevant, and perhaps more political, I am not sure that we have become more powerful as a House, and nor should we. The House of Lords defeats the Government from time to time, but what is much more powerful than defeat is the strength of the argument that is deployed and the influence that is brought to bear, particularly if there is a sign of a rebellion from the party in government.