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Strathclyde Review — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:55 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Constitutional and Political Reform) 9:55 pm, 13th January 2016

I do not think that the House fully understands that, and I think that it has taken a more measured view of these issues. Perhaps I may say that it has been all across the House. It has been remarkable how much consensus there has been in the debate today. These issues clearly are inappropriately dealt with by an internal government review. These matters are of great importance to the whole of Parliament—both Houses.

The memorandum from the Hansard Society sent to Members today makes a very powerful case on this point. The society suggests an independent inquiry. But I have been arguing for some weeks that an evidence-taking, properly constituted and properly advised Joint Select Committee of Peers and MPs would carry even more authority. During this debate, I have lost count of how many Members, from all sides of the House, have supported the idea of a new Joint Select Committee. It would meet the requirements of so many Members who have contributed today. The noble Lords, Lord Cormack and Lord Cunningham, and a number of other Members have said that that is the appropriate way for Parliament together to think through these issues. This is not us against the House of Commons. It is both Houses of Parliament having to think together about how we best operate in undertaking our responsibilities to hold the Executive to account. That is the proper, effective constitutional role of the two Houses.

If we pursue option 3—a powerful case was made for option 2—there would be all sorts of difficulties. Every Member who said that they are in favour of option 3 also said that there were difficulties. Where are we going to elucidate how we can deal with those difficulties? The only appropriate way to do so is of course in a Joint Committee. If there is to be any revision at all of the way in which the two Houses interrelate, modifying the agreed position set out in the 2006 Joint Committee report, there must be a new Joint Committee to take evidence to make new recommendations.

I hope that the Leader of the House, in responding to this debate, will specifically answer that point. All sides of the House have said that that is the appropriate way forward and it is the one thing on which there is clearly a consensus across the House. I trust that when evidence is given to that committee by, I hope, a “Strathclyde mark 2”, he will be as forthright and as protective of the proper role of your Lordships’ House as he was when he was “Strathclyde mark 1”.