Amendment 12

Part of House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 12:45 pm on 15th March 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Snape Lord Snape Labour 12:45 pm, 15th March 2019

My Lords, I did not intend to speak on this group of amendments but I was provoked to do so by the intervention from the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. He was around in 1999; indeed, I am pretty sure that he played a major role in what took place then. It is all very well for the likes of the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, to pray in aid the agreement that came about then and use it as an excuse to say that it was a solemn and binding—he did not use that particular phrase—way to reform the House, that it was at only an initial stage and that he intended to continue that reform later, but the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, knows full well how the 1999 agreement came about. It was accepted by the Labour Government because the Conservative majority in the House of Lords at the time was enormous. Despite the equally enormous Labour majority down the corridor as a result of the 1997 election, that Conservative majority, in which the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, played a major role, made it quite plain that it was either this particular deal or no reform of the House of Lords at all. So let us not have any nonsense that this was merely stage one and talk of solemn and binding promises.

Indeed, that agreement came about without the knowledge and permission of the leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons. The leader of the Labour Peers in the House of Lords lost his job as a result of the agreement. He was a descendant of Lord Salisbury. I would have thought that it takes a lot to shift a Salisbury from your Lordships’ House, but that is exactly what happened. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, knows not only where the bodies are buried but I suspect wielded a shovel himself.