Letter from Lord Rix CBE (LR 13)
It so happens that last week I submitted my
"evidence" to the Lord Chancellor's Office, to the Government
Chief Whip, Lord Carter and to our Cross-Bench Convenor, Lord
Craig. I have great pleasure, therefore, in submitting it to you
and your committee. I believe it makes some kind of sense out
of a somewhat convoluted White Paper. I hope so, anyway!
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE WHITE PAPER "THE
HOUSE OF LORDSCOMPLETING THE REFORM", BY LORD RIX
STEP 1. AROUND
When the remaining 92 hereditary peers no longer
have the right to sit or vote in the House of Lords the make up
of the House will be as follows.
|Crossbench||120 (with 8 new appointments)*
|Other (inc UUP, Green etc)||16
|*possibly hereditary peers converted to life peers
This would bring the numbers down to 610 and establish a
small (23 member) lead for the Labour party over the main opposition
party, the Conservatives, whilst giving no one party an overall
majority in the house.
STEP 2. AROUND
120 Members of the Lords will be elected for one parliamentary
term at the same time as the General Election.
If the Labour party win the next General Election, the house
will automatically reflect this as there will be more Labour members
elected to the Lords than from the other parties.
If the Conservatives win, they will need to elect at least
24 more than the Labour party to ensure that they are the party
with the most members in the House. If there are not 24 more Conservative
members elected the Appointments Commission will have to appoint
members to redress the balance.
STEP 3. FROM
The aim over the 10 years from 2005-15 would be
for the number of non-elected Conservative and Labour members
to fall to a permanent figure of 120 members each, meaning a loss
of 53 Conservative members and 76 Labour members from 2003. Eventually
this group would be appointed for two terms.
The number of independent non-elected members
would remain at 120. Eventually this group would also all be appointed,
again for two terms.
There would be 120 elected members, elected for
The non-elected Liberal Democrat element would
rise to 70 by 2015 and there would be 50 others, including Bishops,
Law Lords and some "others".
The formula outlined above is a tidier formula than that
proposed at present. There would be four blocks of 120 and a slightly
more "untidy" remainer of 120 (non-elected Liberal Democrats
and Others). Within this remainder there could be some fluctuations,
for example as others decline, more Liberal Democrats will need
to be appointed.
Each election would automatically ensure that the party which
won the election would have the most members in the Lords, thereby
taking the task of balancing the chamber out of the hands of the
Appointments Commission and putting it into the hands of the people.
The Appointments Commission would appoint the remainder of
the 430 non-elected members (120 Labour, Conservative and Independent
and 70 Liberal Democrats) and would accept nominations from the
party leaders for this. When the present member of the Lords have
retired or passed away, the Appointments Commission would appoint
The figures in 2015 would be
|Non-elected Lib Dems||70
In 2015 the balance of the House should be revisited and
if, for example, the Liberal Democrats have consistently gained
in their share of the vote then they should be allocated more
appointed members and the other parties have their appointed members
Only to have a state opening of Parliament and
a Queen's Speech at the beginning of each Parliament. At the beginning
of the other sessions, the Prime Minister would set out the legislative
programme for the year in a statement to the Commons, which would
be repeated in the Lords, followed by the usual debates.
Retirement should be encouraged, but with sufficient
Hereditary peers should be allowed to be appointed
and/or to stand for election to the House of Lords.