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The Earl of Onslow: I was interested to note that when my noble friend Lord Crickhowell made that

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rather good joke about his back pay, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, was laughing. The rest of the Front Bench opposite were not. That amused me somewhat.

My point is apposite to the Liberals more than anything else. People paid vast sums of money to become Liberal Peers. Unfortunately for them, they then became Tories. That is one of the reasons why the Liberals are so bored by having so few representative Peers. Having said that, there may be a serious point here. People are desperate to become Members of your Lordships' House. As my noble friend Lord Cranborne said, when he was Lord Privy Seal there were people queuing up outside his office, banging on the door, longing for ermine and coronets. As people are so keen to become Members, I thought Mr. Adam Smith said that we do not have to pay them very much; they are paying anyway in some form or another. I apologise. I shall take that back completely. I did not mean it. However, it has happened in the past. The Government do not need to pay people any more. Above all, to be serious, we do not want a professional House. We want a House of interests, with Members who can come and go when necessary. The moment we start paying it to become a clone of another place, it will be disastrous.

I hope that with the combination of amateur in its best sense and the yearning to adorn these leather Benches, the Government's cash limits are quite happily contained without having to pay people large chunks of money to come and sit here.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede: I endorse many of the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, about having a proper sense of balance in Peers' expenses. I cannot help noticing that the Chamber is much more full for this debate than it was for the previous debate about religious representation in this House.

When I was a local councillor in Wandsworth, the mantra repeated among my colleagues was that the expenses for local councillors should not act as a disincentive to being a local councillor. In those days, the early 1990s, as a local borough councillor I received a few hundred pounds per year. I understand now that my successor receives around £7,500 as a back-bench local councillor. There has been a huge change in the effective level of pay of local councillors.

I am one of those noble Lords who juggles part-time jobs with trying to support a small family. I am under constant domestic pressure to go out and get a proper job. However, I try to hang on here as much as I can because I believe it is an important place to be and I try to make a contribution. Peers such as myself should not be barred from taking an active part in this House because of the cost of not having proper jobs. I believe that should be reflected in the expenses system of this House.

Lord Swinfen: I rise to support Amendment No. 105 tabled by my noble friend Lord Ferrers. However, I believe that it should be amended to allow the position to be reviewed from time to time; otherwise, expenses will stay exactly the same and no one will turn up.

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Expenses were first given to Members of this House when it was found that some of the life Peers, when first created, physically could not afford to attend, particularly from far parts of the country.

A large proportion of Members of the other place comprise professional politicians; men with very little experience outside politics. It is extremely valuable that those who are Members of this House now and in the future should earn their living outside the House so that the House can continue to benefit in the future from the vast amount of experience present among its membership today. It is essential that that outside experience is brought to bear on legislation and the business of the country.

Lord Jopling: I should like to add a word of what I hope is realism to the discussion on this issue. I do not necessarily disagree with the comments of my noble friends Lord Ferrers and Lord Crickhowell. However, the implication of everything that has been said is that we turn our backs totally on any future component of this House being elected. I believe that it is totally unrealistic to expect people to stand for election to this House in the future on the basis of the expenses which we now receive.

5.15 p.m.

Earl Ferrers: I thank the noble Lord for giving way. Of course, he will understand that this amendment refers only to the interim Chamber, as does the Bill, and not to the successor Chamber, whatever that is.

Lord Jopling: I understand that. However, I believe that like it or not whatever we set up with regard to the interim House will have an influence on the future. My noble friends have been implying that they do not, under any circumstances, want salaries to be paid to Members of this House. My point is that once we have elected Members, we are bound to have salaries. It will be impossible in the longer run to have a two-tier system in this House whereby elected Members are paid salaries but appointed Members are not. I am merely trying to make the point that once we have elected Members, we shall have to pay salaries to all Members.

The Earl of Northesk: I rise to echo the words of my noble friend Lord Swinfen. I hope that in consideration of this matter the Government will not ignore two words which I believe to be hugely important; that is, "duty" and "amateur". I hope also that all noble Lords agree that whatever their feelings about the hereditary peerage, these are particular virtues of the whole House which we should strive to maintain, even in the interim House. The question, therefore, is how that can be achieved in the short term. The amendment tabled by the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, may have imperfections so far as the wider issues are concerned, but it does, at least, provide a mechanism to achieve that objective.

There is one other small point I should like to tease out. My noble friend Lord Caithness drew the attention of the Committee to paragraph 27 of the Explanatory Memorandum. That contends that the financial effects

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of the Bill will be negligible. The Bill was originally drafted to remove approximately half those noble Lords who regularly attend the House. It seems to me, therefore, that there will be a substantial saving as a result of the enactment of the Bill.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I suppose that this could be described as "the trade unions' half-hour". It is only appropriate the chief shop steward, the Government Chief Whip, should reply to it. My noble friend Lord Jopling made an important point. This is not just a simple issue; it ties in to a much bigger issue. The salaries or expenses of Members of your Lordships' House in the future will be entirely dependent on the nature of the House. If we come, in stage three, to have an elected House, it will be an elected House in which salaries are paid, which I hope will be commensurate with those paid to Members of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and not the House of Commons. I gather that the computer companies have had a heyday in both of those new organisations in the supply of PCs, desktops and goodness knows what else.

It is obvious that elected Members would, quite naturally, expect to be paid, but they could be paid only if they were full time. We are talking here of the interim Chamber, or perhaps of the Chamber that might be stage three. If one reads the Government's evidence to the Royal Commission, it certainly looks as if matters are pointing in that direction.

If we have that kind of Chamber, which is not dissimilar to the one we have at present but without the hereditary component, it seems to me to be essential that we keep away from salaries. I say that because those noble Lords who come here and who have other jobs outside obviously do not attend anything like all the time. For example, the noble Lord, Lord Haskins, appeared yesterday to make his maiden speech. Despite the best endeavours of a chief shop steward, I have no doubt that he will not be coming here all that often--otherwise, I might consider selling my shares in his companies; that is, if I had any.

Clearly, one of the strengths of your Lordships' House is the fact that there are Members who do not attend all the time. Therefore, one could not possibly give them full-time salaries. My noble friend Lord Nickson, although now retired, was in your Lordships' House when he held the important position of chairman of the Clydesdale Bank. That inevitably meant that his membership of this Chamber would not occupy all the days that the House sits. That is only right. I name my noble friend because he actually took part in this debate. In fact, I could look round the Chamber and pinpoint certain noble Lords, although some of them are not here, who have very demanding jobs outside but who, nevertheless, play a valuable role in the House. That is one of the strengths that I hope we can actually maintain in the future. I give way to the noble Lord.

Lord Marsh: I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I totally agree with what he is saying; certainly, I do not want a full-time House, nor indeed a totally elected House. We do not know what is going to happen. However, does the noble Lord agree that there

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is a serious problem in terms of people who live way outside the metropolitan area? If those people have a job, they cannot leave it to come down here. I suspect that one of the problems of this debate is that we cannot really reach any sort of conclusion until we know what the new House will look like.


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