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Lord Aldington: Has the Leader of the House taken account of the fact that in the White Paper the appointments commission comes in the chapter on the transitional House? Why, then, is it wrong for my noble friends, and later me, to talk about these very important matters on this Bill?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: There is absolutely no question but that the transitional House is the subject--and it is the subject of further amendments, which we shall address in a substantive group--of the appointments commission. All that I am saying, as I said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Stanley of Alderley, in regard to his Amendment No. 71--the same arises on this amendment--is that the amendment refers to long-term membership of the House of Lords, as it should be reformed, and therefore that is not necessarily an appropriate matter for this Bill.

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I was about to say that we do not feel it sensible to prescribe to the appointments commission, or the Prime Minister under this amendment, what is desirable or workable in terms of the transitional House. But it is important that the noble Earl and the noble Lord have raised these matters of general principle, which I think have been generally accepted in that vein around the Committee.

The Earl of Onslow: I must first apologise for being slightly late for this amendment, in which I have some interest when we come to the tangential Amendments Nos. 89 and 90. Surely the Government could give this undertaking: "We will make sure in our appointments procedure that these various groups and interests are represented by suitable life Peers". If that happens, we make the transitional House a better House. Those of us who have doubts whether the House of Lords mark 3 will arrive by Lady Day of next year will be happier if we see that the Prime Minister's power of patronage is--not destroyed or reduced--but much more transparent. That is what those of us who want a representation of interests and groups wish to see: that the Prime Minister's power of patronage shall be transparent.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: That is precisely the matter that the Committee intends to discuss under those amendments which describe various forms of appointments commission, amendments which I hope we shall come to shortly.

The noble Earl was right to mention that he was not here for our earlier discussion on why the Government felt it inappropriate to prescribe these matters in the way that they are prescribed in the amendment. I am sure that we shall return to those general points when we come to the later group.

The Earl of Caithness: I am grateful to all Members of the Committee who have taken part in the debate. I am particularly grateful to the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for dealing with the matter so fully. If nothing else, we have moved a step forward, because what she said was more positive than what appeared in the White Paper or the submission to the Royal Commission. The noble Baroness did not go quite as far as my noble friend Lord Onslow wanted, but I hope that with a little more pushing we might get her to be a little more positive on this at a later stage.

The noble Lords, Lord Annan and Lord Walton, said that they did not like the amendment because it was for phase two. No, this amendment is for phase one. This is a stand-alone Bill. We are thinking about the next House, the successor House; we are not looking two away. Many of us believe that the successor House will last a great deal longer than a short, interim period. As the noble Lords, Lord Annan and Lord Walton, will be aware, in 1968 the House of Lords agreed that the hereditary Peers should go, but nothing has happened since. We might approve this Bill, but it is really up to another place, which has always been the stumbling block to further reform.

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Therefore, I am concentrating on the transitional Chamber, in which I should have liked to see a wider representation on the Spiritual Benches. I understand some of the problems about appointments; for example, the transitory nature of some of the senior positions, such as the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. If nothing else, I hope that the amendment has taken the matter a step forward, and I am grateful for so much consensus within the Committee. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Stanley of Alderley moved Amendment No. 73:


After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--
(" . The Senior Salaries Review Board shall keep under review the salaries, expenses and allowances paid to members of the House of Lords, having regard in particular to their functions and duties as members of that House.")

The noble Lord said: I should like to refer to one point made by the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and raised continually by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, which is basically that we should not be discussing the future role or the constitution of the House of Lords, but should leave these matters to the Royal Commission, the Government or A.N. Other. With respect, or perhaps, as lawyers would say, with "the greatest respect", I cannot agree. I believe that before I, or indeed we, depart, it is our job to do everything that we possibly can to ensure that the future House of Lords is as good as or better than the present one and to establish what it is likely to look like. However, in replying to the previous amendment, the noble Baroness was considerably more helpful than earlier, when replying to my Amendment No. 71.

My reason for tabling this amendment is the statement made in the Government's Explanatory Notes, printed on 17th March, which state in paragraph 27 that the financial effects of the Bill "will be negligible". The Committee is surely entitled to know what the Government have in mind with regard to the future expenses of the interim Chamber, or whatever it is called, and what Members will be paid. My amendment suggests that if the powers of the House are to be the same as, or similar to, those of the present House, and if, as the Explanatory Notes state, the financial effects of the Bill "will be negligible", future Members of the interim House should not be paid a salary of any kind whatsoever, but should be reimbursed for their expenses in the same way as noble Lords are today.

I must admit that because I live 260 miles from your Lordships' House my expenses are nearly always greater than the amount I may claim. Coffee and tea on the train are neither cheap nor particularly good. I am not complaining about that. Indeed, I am strongly of the opinion, which is very old-fashioned, that once you are paid for doing something, you are always in hock to

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whoever pays you. You lose your soul and your independence. We do not want that to happen to members of the interim Chamber.

Lord Avebury: Does my noble kinsman not think it a good idea to take a Thermos with him on the train?

Lord Stanley of Alderley: I do not think that I could persuade my wife to do that.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Stanley of Alderley: I am giving her dinner this evening. My noble kinsman was not here while I was having a go at him about his lack of religion; he is obviously having a go at me now.

Before I am accused of having been put into a position by my forebears of being sufficiently rich to take such a view of not being paid, I assure the Committee--and I am sure my noble kinsman will agree with me--that my forebears squandered my family's wealth on themselves, thus leaving very little indeed for me to similarly indulge myself. I beg to move.

The Earl of Caithness: I wish to seek the Government's views on the existing system of allowances and expenses. Do they consider what prevails now to be fair and equitable? Secondly, do they believe that the current arrangements are sufficient to ensure that individuals are not discouraged from membership for lack of adequate resources?

That is a particularly important question in view of the imminent expected influx of at least 40 new Labour Peers. I remind those who are waiting in the wings that this is an incredibly cheap House to run. The average per capita cost per Member is £37,000 whereas for an MP it is £366,000 and for a Member of the European Parliament, £948,000. So any prospective Peer will not get rich quickly coming here.

I also remind those waiting in the wings that on many occasions our daily attendance equates on an hourly basis to less than the minimum wage. That is even more so if one takes into account the amount of time one spends preparing for debates if one is an active Member.

Paragraphs 53 and 54 of the excellent report of my noble and learned friend Mackay suggests that as most Members of the phase 3 House will sit full time, salaries and allowances should be paid commensurate to those paid to MPs. Do the Government agree with that statement by my noble and learned friend? If they do, do they consider that that transition should happen suddenly, when phase 3 comes in, or should it happen on a gradual basis so that during the time of the interim House allowances and expenses ratchet up to be more in line with those of another place?

Lord Elton: For the record, and for the guidance of the Table, will my noble friends confirm that they are speaking also to Amendment No. 105 which is grouped with this amendment? I take it that they are and I shall give way if I am wrong.

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I wish to put this point which is relevant to what the noble Lord, Lord Annan, and others said earlier. I know it is considered bad manners by Members of the Committee opposite to refer to it but we must countenance the possibility that, in spite of their great commitment and very best intentions, the Government may not be able to replace the House we are creating by this Bill with another. The question of whether or not it is to be a salaried body is, therefore, extremely germane because if it is a salaried body it will be quite different from the House as it is at present and will behave differently. Its Members will increasingly see their attendance and work here as almost their exclusive occupation, as people at the other end of the Corridor consider it to be theirs.

One of the important balancing factors which your Lordships provide in the constitution as it is at present is a large of body of people who attend and pay critical attention to legislation, major issues of policy and detailed matters of drafting based on considerable experience outside this building. They bring in that experience; that is their value. If the principle of my noble friend's amendment is not accepted, that is liable to be lost for ever. It will be a very substantial loss indeed. Therefore, the noble Lord the Chief Whip, who is to reply, should know of our concern that if, in spite of his best intentions, the transitional Chamber is in place for a long time, it should not be unintentionally changed into something quite different.


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