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Lord Williams of Mostyn: This is a one clause Bill. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, will be able to remind me how many clauses were in the Pensions Bill.

Lord Strathclyde: I am not sure what that has got to do with the argument used earlier by the noble Lord. He has introduced an interesting constitutional device: if a Bill does not include a matter which the Government do not wish to discuss, that matter may not be discussed. My noble friend said from a sedentary position that he would have loved to have been able to use that particular argument.

When I held the position currently held by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, there would have been a huge amount of ammunition in my rather humble armoury. The party then in opposition would not have won anything.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Was there any amendment to the Pensions Bill in the form of a purpose clause?

Lord Strathclyde: It was a failure on behalf of the Opposition not to think of such a thing. It is a credit to my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, who has introduced that whole question.

I do not wish to quarrel with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, who suggested that there is not much ambiguity in this Bill. But I wish to test this with the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, because

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it is my view that, while there may not be much ambiguity, there is certainly a great deal of uncertainty for the future.

We are looking at a Bill which will create an interim House. That interim House will wish to find the new boundaries of its powers and to decide whether or not to use them. I echo the remarks of my noble friend Lord Marlesford, who said that the important point about the powers of this House is that they come from convention, statute and Standing Orders. No doubt the conventions and the Standing Orders will be the path by which the interim House will wish to discover the boundaries of its powers.

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, may have thought that I was making a political point, but I believe that it is a far more important point of principle for Parliament to know what is the Government's view about those powers. The Government have made two statements: one in the manifesto and one in the debate on the White Paper, which was mentioned by the noble Baroness. It is a very simple question. I merely want to know which statement applies: the one in the manifesto or the one in the White Paper. There must have been a discussion in government about the powers of the interim House.

One has only to look at the example that we presently have before us. Election campaigns are ongoing in Scotland and Wales. Parties standing in those elections wish to increase the powers of the parliament and assembly. The Government have explained in some detail in this Chamber and in another place why they do not wish to extend those powers. They have made their position abundantly clear. But they have failed to do so in relation to the future of this House.

Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, says that we have no right. But it is legitimate to ask the question and it is right for the Government to give an answer about how they envisage the Chamber that this Bill creates. This Bill is not just about the removal of hereditary Peers. It creates a new House of Lords. I am not asking questions about what will happen in the long term. I am not trying to generate a debate on the report of my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern. I am asking what is the Government's intention, once this Bill is passed, on the powers of the interim House.

The noble Lord, Lord Richard, has remarked upon his book, Unfinished Business. We have some more unfinished business here. The question is not the scope of the Bill but its effects.

I am extremely disappointed by the reaction of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn. I would like to give him another opportunity to reply to me, but if he cannot do so I am honour bound to try to bring forward a similar amendment at a subsequent stage so that we can get the answer that this House deserves as regards what is in the Government's mind. On the basis of what I have said and the commitment I gave earlier on, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I refer now to some of

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my amendments. Amendments Nos. 18, 26, 64 and 153 have been inappropriately grouped. I have asked for them to be regrouped. Therefore, I suggest that I speak to those amendments later.

Lord Selsdon moved Amendment No. 10:


Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

Composition of the House of Lords

(" .--(1) Except as provided by subsection (2) below, the holder by succession of a hereditary peerage of England, Scotland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom, shall not in right of that peerage receive a writ of summons to attend the House of Lords in any Parliament summoned after the commencement of this Act.
(2) Subsection (1) shall not affect the right to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords of any holder by succession of a hereditary peerage who had received such a writ in right of that peerage at any time before the date of commencement of this Act.
(3) Any holder of a hereditary peerage or peer of first creation to whom subsection (2) of this section applies, may by notice in writing to the Lord Chancellor within one year after the commencement of this act, disclaim his membership of the House of Lords; and thereupon subsection (2) shall cease to apply to him and any writ of summons to attend that House previously issued to him shall cease to have effect.
(4) In any Parliament summoned after the commencement of this Act, the temporal members of the House of Lords shall compose members possessing full voting rights (in this Act referred to as voting peers) and other members; the voting peers shall consist of peers of first creation and not less than one hundred hereditary peers nominated by the holders by succession of hereditary peerages whether in the peerage of England, Scotland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.
(5) A peer who is not a voting peer shall not be qualified to vote--
(a) on any question to be determined by the House (including any committee of the whole House); or
(b) as a member of any committee for the consideration of any Bill or Measure or of any instrument or draft instrument.
(6) Nothing in this section affects the right of any peer to move any motion or to take part, otherwise than by vote, in any proceedings of the House or any committee of the House.
(7) In this section--
"peer of first creation" includes a peer upon whom a life peerage has been conferred under any enactment; and
"vote" means give voice upon question put or take part in a division.")

The noble Lord said: It is extraordinarily confusing for me because I am not quite sure what all this is about. It is a fairly simple Bill about what need not necessarily be a confused subject. I go back to the words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who quoted Churchill and said that he was the one who had set in motion the desire to reform. In my 36 years in this House I have been longing for the day of reform.

Churchill always read his speeches, which is something I was told one should never do. When he was getting on a bit and at a Conservative Party conference, he read the first page and then turned it over. It did not fall over properly and he began to read the same page again. Everyone said, "The old man has lost his marbles". But halfway down he said, "You know, I seem to have heard that somewhere before and it was rather good, wasn't it? It was worth repeating".

As I said, some people in my early days told me that I should always speak without a note and should have all my speeches stuffed in different pockets. But in order

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to gain his ideas Churchill would drink champagne in the morning and cognac in the afternoon and he would have the courage to carry out his ideas. I believe that noble Lords opposite are lacking both in champagne and cognac.

I am in an embarrassing position. I could not work out why I should move an amendment. I want to make it clear that I have not discussed my amendment with anybody on any Front Bench. Except for the Public Bill Office, I am probably one of the few who really understands it. As my text I take Command Paper 37/99. I was born in 1937 and it is now 1999. A White Paper then cost 3s. 6d. When I came to your Lordships' House we had no allowances. Then the cost rose to something like £4 14s 6d, which to the gentlemen of this world was called four guineas. When we came here I thought that the four guineas meant that one counted out how many hours the House sat and one proportioned one's claim against that.

The amendment I have put down today is stage two of the reform of the House of Lords. Many noble Lords opposite should be grateful for the fact that stage one was the introduction of life Peers in 1958. Stage two was the Labour Party proposals--I do not know whether we call it the Labour Party, but the proposals of the party represented by noble Lords opposite--was to reform the House in 1968.

My amendment is effectively the Bill of 1968 with a few little jigs in it. It says in the first subsection that hereditary Peers shall not have the right to sit after the time has expired. It also says in subsection (3) that people shall have the right to resign. It states that Peers will be divided into voting and non-voting Peers. I have added a little bit which says that hereditary Peers shall have the right to nominate 100 people because I could not think of how 96 or 97 worked out.

I was only 25 when I came to the House. I now have to read something which comes from the Command Paper, paragraph 25. It says:


    "Two main principles emerge from the examination of these suggestions. The first is that if a reformed House is to have the influence which an effective Second Chamber requires, it must possess a degree of genuine independence". When this White Paper came before the House, we gave it a majority of 195 and it received something like 160 in another place. However, the other place, about which I shall speak no more in derogatory terms, did not have the courage to implement the proposals, which were soundly based and which could possibly have been amended. None of us hereditary Peers has ever accepted that we have a God-given right to be here. The only problem is: who do we report to? We certainly do not report to a prime minister.

The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who is having a conversation on the Front Bench--something which would never have been done in my day--had the nerve to point out that he was one of the first generation. In a nice charming way he said that he was appointed by a prime minister who is no longer in office. Therefore, he is second generation; and, in my book, he may well be deemed to be hereditary. Nevertheless,

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I have a great regard for him as an advocate, as I do not have the ability to repeat the words and the terminology that he uses.

I feel quite passionately about this. The second stage of reform in my lifetime was aborted by a government which did not have the courage to try to push it through in another place. In my view, that was the second stage and, therefore, we should now have reached the third stage. I believe that 30 years is a long period of time. I had my first involvement in all of this because I really wanted to be an independent. I did not like the idea of being told what to do; but, if you do not have the courage to know what you should do, you sort of sit quietly and feel that it is better to be on the Back-Benches. I have always preferred to be up here looking down on the masses rather than looking up at them.

My worry is that the 1968 Bill was fair and constructive. It provided that hereditary Peers would stay for life. It did not say that anyone would be nominated, but it said that Peers would be non-voting. However, that did not mean they could not participate in debates or could not give of their knowledge. To my way of thinking, this particular Government are saying, "We are worried about the votes. We want the votes, not an independent House. We want to have a balance". But who decides that balance? I do not know the answer.

However, I have another worry. As I said on Second Reading, I later became a director of a group within a research company. I took over from a really great man who did a lot of work for the Social Science Research Council and the Labour Party, Mark Abrahams. After the aborted 1968 Bill, we undertook a free study for the Labour Party to look into reform of the House of Lords. We consulted 320 Peers, both hereditary and otherwise. I kept much of the information of the research company. I did so because intellectual property belongs to the people who pay for it. We paid for it ourselves. I re-analysed the data with knitting needles and with Hollerith cards over part of last weekend. I sat and went through all the PDVN material that I could find about this House and came to a number of quite interesting conclusions.

The first conclusion was that the party opposite want to get rid of hereditary Peers for a political reason: they do not want to have an inbuilt majority of other people. They forget that some of us can have independent views and that some of us do not kow-tow to Whips or to political bodies. Indeed, some of us stay away when we feel that a vote is embarrassing and does not accord with our political feelings.

The insults that have started to emerge, when this House has normally been a friendly and co-operative place in my lifetime, have really put my hackles up. Indeed, insults began to be directed towards us. Let us look around the Chamber. Do people realise that the families of some noble Lords have been here for 20 or 30 generations? All of them have served this place well or badly, but they have served it. It should also be realised that of those who are here today many have been here for over 50 years, others for over 30 years,

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and some have only been here for a few years. It is not the length the service that necessarily counts; it is the commitment to what one believes in and to whom one reports, if anyone. According to my Letters Patent and according to consultations that I have had, I believe that I report to Her Majesty the Queen, and that I do willingly. However, I do not report to the House; nor, I believe, do other people here. We have a courtesy and duty to each other.

What I have done--it has amused me--is to study this previous information 30 years on. I regret that the reform has not taken place in those 30 years.


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