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Strathclyde Review — Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:19 pm on 13th January 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Stowell of Beeston Baroness Stowell of Beeston Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal 10:19 pm, 13th January 2016

I am conscious of time; everybody is tired. I am going to come on to that; I have just said that that is what I am going to come on to, and I will.

Some noble Lords thought that it would be best to proceed without legislation and instead to codify the convention; certainly there is an argument to be made in respect of that, but that approach would require us to restore a shared understanding about the convention underpinning our power of veto. Most noble Lords focused their comments on the third option put forward by my noble friend, the one that he recommends—as he described it, the ping without a pong. He suggests that that would replace this House’s power of veto with a new power to ask the other place to think again, with the House of Commons having the final say.

What he is recommending there is what noble Lords are arguing for. However, some thought that it would be necessary to retain the veto available to us now. I stress again that all these things are under consideration, but it is important for me to point out that we do not have an absolute veto when it comes to primary legislation. The new power that my noble friend suggests would be more in keeping with the role of this House, and the desire it has to ask the other House to think again.

The noble Baronesses, Lady Taylor and Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and others asked me from the Labour side of the House to consider what was possible that would have some longevity and was not about just advancement for any particular party in government. Again, I found it very helpful to revisit what the Labour Party said to the Joint Committee on Conventions about the veto when they were in power. Forgive me for singling out the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, again but it was he who made this point to the Joint Committee. He said that,

“the House of Lords can veto secondary legislation … the very legitimate question arises … whether it would be sensible to consider the proposition that the Lords in respect of secondary legislation should do what it does with primary legislation, and see its function as being a delaying, revising chamber but not a vetoing chamber. That is really the question that is being put”.