The Public Administration Select Committee
has agreed to the following Report:
THE SECOND CHAMBER: CONTINUING THE REFORM:
THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE COMMITTEE'S FIFTH REPORT
1. Today we publish the Government's response to
the Committee's Fifth Report of this Session: "The Second
Chamber: Continuing the Reform", which on 14 February set
out our views on the next stage of House of Lords reform.
2. The Government admits that its response is only
an interim one. This is disappointing, though understandable.
There have been more than 1000 contributions to the Government's
consultation on the reform of the House of Lords, and no doubt
the Government wishes to consider them carefully before deciding
on the way ahead. We are glad that the Government can immediately
accept some of our conclusions and recommendations, especially
where it agrees with us on the importance of a reformed chamber
in holding the executive to account.
3. But one thing is clear. Nothing that has happened
since we published our Report makes us change our view that there
must be, as we said then, "an early and credible reform of
the second chamber". For us, that means a legitimate chamber
with a much greater role for election than that envisaged by the
Government. This was part of a practical package of reform, with
a clear timescale, on which the Committee unanimously agreed.
It was aimed at making Parliament as a whole stronger. We are
also confident that this cross-party agreement represents the
views of the vast majority in the House of Commons, and that there
is widespread public support for the kind of chamber we are proposing.
We suspect that this will be amply confirmed when the results
of the Government's consultation exercise are published.
4. In the light of this widespread agreement, we
see no reason for the Government to delay much longer. The Government
has an impressive record of constitutional reform to its credit.
However, not to continue the reform of the Second Chamber, in
the way that we have shown to be possible, would be a missed opportunity
of historic proportions.