My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and the members of the Lord Speaker’s committee on the report, and support its recommendations. In the absence of a written constitution, this House and the other place are reliant for our effectiveness on broadly shared values, trust and conventions. Hitherto, this reliance has nearly always served us well and, for the proposals in this excellent report to be effectual, respect for convention in the future will be essential. I have every hope and confidence that that respect will be forthcoming.
I have no quibble over points of detail in the report. I think 600 is an appropriate number of Peers for us to discharge our duties. The formula for reflecting the political views of the country over a period of time is by far the best suggested hitherto, based as it is on the work of my noble friend Lord Jopling, who is in his place. A fixed term of 15 years for new Peers is about right; it may be a little short. The proposals for the Cross Benches and retired Supreme Court justices are, in my view, unimpeachable. Consideration of the composition and statutory basis or otherwise of the House of Lords Appointments Commission is important but is a matter for another day because unreviewable discretion is an extremely controversial subject.
This House discharges its functions, I think by universal acknowledgement, effectively. The committee’s proposals, if implemented, will maintain that effectiveness and perhaps enhance what I have noted from a number of perspectives over several decades to be broad public support for our constitutional role, despite the occasional passing cloud in opinion polls. The objective of this debate is to establish whether there is widespread support for the committee’s proposals. I wish the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and the committee well in the forthcoming process of reaching agreement on the way forward with the main parties and others involved, and I look forward to our implementing the proposals which emanate from that process.