Amendment 12

Part of House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 12:20 pm on 15th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Northbrook Lord Northbrook Conservative 12:20 pm, 15th March 2019

My Lords, Amendment 12 states that Standing Orders must provide for 90 people to be excepted for the duration of a Parliament and that a new organisation, a hereditary Peers commission, shall determine at the start of a Parliament which hereditary Peers shall fill the 90 places provided. The amendment also sets out how the commission should be launched immediately after the Bill becomes law, as well as its role in by-elections.

Amendments 32 and 33 set out alternative details of the proposed composition of the commission. Deciding this has given me some difficulty. It is not entirely clear in my mind how it should be made up—whether it should consist of Peers in the House of Lords, excepted Peers or hereditary Peers including those excluded from the House in 1999. For simplicity’s sake I have for now considered, as per Amendment 32, that the commission should,

“comprise two persons nominated by the leader of each political party”.

For the Cross-Bench elections there should be two Members from the Cross Benches, but, as an alternative, they could comprise two independent members of a non-statutory appointments commission. The amendment sets out that the procedure should be carried out at the start of each Parliament, with the first appointments being made immediately after the next general election.

Amendments 32 and 33 also set out criteria for selection. The commission must take account of party balance, age, interests, expertise, commitment to participate and regional representation. Importantly, the commission must ensure that the party balance among the hereditary Peers who are to be Members of the House helps to ensure that the overall party balance reflects the share of the vote secured by the main political parties at the general election. The hereditary Peers commission will also supervise any by-election that takes place during the course of a Parliament.

This amendment should help monitor the balance of the 90 hereditary Peers and goes some way to answering the criticisms of my noble friend Lord Cormack and the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber that some of the political parties’ representation among the 90 excepted Peers does not reflect their electoral position in the other place. I beg to move.