Part of Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee - Membership Motion – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 31st January 2023.
My Lords, I sense the mood of the House that we ought to move forward. There may be other noble Lords from the committee who endorse this, but I want to say that I have listened and, obviously, I take on board the comments made by people I respect. The noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, has said something that I think the noble Lord, Lord Hutton, found difficult, but the truth is that there is precedent for committees to consider these matters. The Conduct Committee, for instance, decided of its own volition that it needed to establish a rotation. Therefore, lots were drawn and some members served two years and others served three.
On the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, transitions are where difficulties arise regarding how long a member may stay. For instance, the noble Baroness, Lady Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, will have served a gallant three and a half years; others, including I think the noble Lord, Lord German, will have served less, but that is what was agreed by the House in moving from three Sessions to three calendar years. It was only in October 2020 that the House took this view.
The guiding principle is that we all have a lot to contribute to the work of the committees of the House, and we wanted to ensure that as many noble Lords as possible have that opportunity. As we know, there are many applications to serve on the committees. I, the Chief Whip, the Convenor and others can confirm that often, there are more applications than vacancies, so we do need to find a way forward.
I sincerely hope I am being helpful to the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, in saying that in my view, it is open for chairs and committees to decide the best way forward, as it always has been. There are other examples of staggered rotations precisely to accommodate these matters, and there is no difficult with that. The Committee of Selection always keeps these matters under consideration, but it has been helpful to hear a number of points being made.
I was really quite stung by the idea that somehow in 2019 the six new members placed that committee in jeopardy and difficulties by their lack of experience. My experience of 2019-20 was of a very strong and robust committee. I am confident because of the names that have been put forward, which the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, referred to. Those seven Members are of very strong standing and are worthy of your Lordships’ support.