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Strathclyde Review — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Lord Balfe Lord Balfe Conservative 8:45 pm, 13th January 2016

That would be a nice thing, would it not? The German upper House has very circumscribed powers. It basically looks after the Länder. It divides its powers with the lower House. It has very little say in the way the federal republic is run, other than within its circumscribed limits. The French upper House is a body of people who are largely delegates from their regional authorities. We all know how that happens: “Pierre is the leader and Françoise, she’s the number two, and we must give the committee on education to so-and-so”. Then they get to the end of the list and say, “Christ, we’ve got to send someone to Paris. Oh, I know: Jean-Marie has been a really good servant of this House and he does like travel, you know”.

There is no perfect way to construct a second Chamber, but we have one. It is a valuable second Chamber. We have to safeguard our rights, one of which is to say to the people down the corridor, “You’ve got it wrong”. If we ever said it at the right time, it was on 26 October, when we said to them, “You’ve got it wrong”, and what did they do? They agreed with us and actually withdrew it. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the vote was followed by decisive government action that basically accepted that this Chamber was right, even though I was, as ever, in the wrong Lobby.