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House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:41 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Caithness The Earl of Caithness Conservative 10:41 am, 13th March 2020

My Lords, that would depend on whether they were going to put their names forward to stand. I do not have a clue what my successor will do, so I do not declare an interest. I would be dead and well out of it, thank goodness.

My first happy duty is to wish a happy birthday to the noble Lord, Lord Burns; I regret that he has to spend his birthday debating this Bill yet again. This is not the same Bill that we discussed on Report the last time it was before us. The noble Lord, Lord Grocott—inadvertently, I am sure—has not included the amendment of mine that he accepted. I am sure he will wish to do that at a later stage and we will get back to the Bill that we were properly discussing.

This is a constitutionally important Bill because it fundamentally changes the nature of our constitution. It makes this House a totally appointed Chamber—appointed at the whim of the Prime Minister. The House of Commons has never voted for that—quite the reverse. It has voted for an elected Chamber. It is only this House that has voted to remain a totally appointed Chamber.

The noble Lord, Lord Grocott, in his typically funny, witty and amusing speech, was of course his usual inaccurate and incomplete self.