Amendment 12

Part of House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 12:30 pm on 15th March 2019.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 12:30 pm, 15th March 2019

My Lords, this is not a sensible amendment. We have one absurd system for electing hereditary Peers at the moment, which it is proposed be replaced by another. While I could not begin to justify the system of elections that takes place at the moment, I could no more justify the establishment of a commission to do it. The only justification for the status quo is that it is the status quo, and it is best to leave that until we do a radical reform of the House of Lords, which should of course end the election of hereditary Peers entirely.

There are a whole lot of problems in Amendment 32 and the construction of the commission which one could go into, but I am not sure that it is necessary. Rather, I make the point that the best thing to do—this is my fundamental objection to the Bill of my noble friend Lord Grocott—is nothing in respect of the existing House of Lords until there is a sufficient consensus or a Government who are capable of leading towards a radical reform of the Lords, which should fundamentally replace this House with an elected or federal second Chamber. To tinker with the precise way that hereditary Members of this House are appointed, whether it is by some absurd system of election, to be replaced by some equally absurd commission, seems entirely beside the point, playing the game of my noble friend Lord Grocott, which is to make tinkering changes to essentially preserve the status quo. I am not in favour of preserving the status quo—I want radical reform. The Brexit crisis we are going through at the moment and the huge public discontent in the country mean that we can no longer duck this issue of a fundamental reform of this House, and we should put paid to all these tinkering changes.