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The Lord Chancellor: No, I certainly did not say that in my view the transitional House might last for up to five years.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: Is it right that we shall come back to this with the other amendments on recommittal? There is no question that we cannot discuss the matter further. I found grave difficulty with the logic of my noble friend Lord Cranborne and believe that the way the issue was put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, had a certain merit. I am approaching the issue with good will, and I hope with a modicum of common sense, but there is an argument that it has not been resolved today.

The Lord Chancellor: I am always willing to be corrected by the Government Chief Whip, if he is in his place, but my understanding is clear. The Weatherill amendment is being recommitted and that occasion will be the forum for consideration of any amendments to it which any of your Lordships choose to table.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: Of course we understand that the noble and learned Lord does not believe, and does not hope, that the interim House will last for five years or more. However, is he aware and does he admit that the draft paper for the Procedure Committee provides at page two that:


The paper goes on to state:


    "If the scheme exists for such a length of time that the Standing Order provision becomes unworkable, the House will be able to continue alternative methods of filling vacancies and amend the standing order if necessary". So there are others of some eminence who believe that the interim House may last longer than five years.

The Lord Chancellor: There is a distinction between catering for an eventuality and believing that the eventuality will occur. I do not believe that this eventuality will occur, but the authors of the paper have expressed themselves prudently.

Lord Strathclyde: I am grateful to all noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. I regret that some are disappointed that we are considering the issue in advance of the recommitment. As I said at the outset, my intention primarily was to reduce the amount of time we would need to debate some of the side issues when we reached the recommitment and to provide a service to the House. I am glad that the noble and learned Lord recognised that.

It has been helpful in demonstrating that most of the amendment or Standing Order is broadly acceptable to this Committee and, by implication, to the House. There are some small but important issues of detail which will

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still need to be resolved. No doubt they will be resolved not just by the Procedure Committee or another committee of the House but also in further discussions in the House.

I am glad that the noble and learned Lord said that he was--and I do not use his words--leaving a chink of light open in relation to the Committee for Privileges. I agree with what the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe said; namely, that the Committee for Privileges is to deal with issues of legal rights.

My intention is not that the Committee for Privileges should be the committee which deals with that detail. That could well be done by the Procedure Committee. But there should be some sort of constitutional lock so that a Procedure Committee which, for example, fell into the hands of one party or another would not be able to "muck around" with the system. I want to be certain that there is a sufficiently authoritative group in the House able to be the guardian of those procedures. That is my intention. It is nothing more than that.

As to what should be on the face of the Bill, there was an interesting disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, on one side and my noble friend Lord Cranborne and others on the other. The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, felt that the House of Commons should have a say in how Members of this House are created. There are two ways in which that can be provided: either by primary legislation incorporating aspects of the amendment on the face of the Bill; or by secondary legislation. Both those methods would give the other place a veto.

Having listened to the debate, I take the view--and more strongly than I did before--that primary or secondary legislation would not be the right way forward. Therefore, I agree with the noble and learned Lord about that in relation to the majority of the detail. But there is one important issue with which I shall deal in a moment about which I feel marginally differently.

I turn now to the question of the Deputy Chairmen and whether they should sit on the Cross Benches. I can say that that is desirable for reasons explained by my noble friend. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor suggested that that is not such a good idea. Perhaps that is something to which we shall return in the debate next week when the Bill is recommitted.

As regards what happens with regard to those who are members of the pool--which is the description that I take from the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank--there is no presumption that those who are elected in the 15 should necessarily sit on the Woolsack. They are part of a pool who would be asked to join the Deputy Chairmen. When they ceased to become Deputy Chairmen, they would simply return to the Back Benches, in the same way that Peers currently sit on the Back Benches, having sat for a period on the Woolsack. There is no great problem there.

However, that leaves the question of replenishment. The noble Lord, Lord Peston, felt that that question had not been entirely answered. He felt that there is now an area of doubt. It was precisely to alleviate that area of doubt that I proposed by-elections. I suggested that that may take place after a certain period has passed, when

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the topping-up process would take place. That is another reason that I can demonstrate that I have no desire for cumbersome rules in the Bill or as part of the way that the new hereditary Peers would replace those who had died.

I am perfectly prepared that for a period of time, hereditary Peers should be replaced by topping-up by--in the words of the noble and learned Lord--the "fastest losers" to replace those who have died. But surely that cannot be the best system after a number of years have gone by. It is the wish of all parties that there should be a stage two and, therefore, there is every incentive for that to be created. Like my noble friend Lord Cranborne, I take the word of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor entirely at face value and I recognise his commitment and that of his party to stage two.

Having said that, there must remain an element of doubt. We are legislating for that element of doubt. There should be no issue of principle between us because this is not a matter of principle. We are trying to legislate for good order. What happens if, after, for example, five years, there is no stage two and no sight of stage two? As my noble friend Lord Ferrers indicated, the topping-up procedure may not be working very well. But what better solution can there be than providing by-elections? That should work rather well and would be a constant reminder that the hereditary Peers are here and are being replenished. If noble Lords opposite found that so abhorrent, they could come forward with a stage-two Bill. Therefore, there is no issue of principle between us. I moved the amendment in a spirit of helpfulness and I hope that the noble and learned Lord may consider it at a later stage.

In order to continue in my helpful manner, I shall discuss, perhaps with the officials of the House, whether or not I can bring forward a specific by-elections amendment for debate at another date or even on recommitment of the Bill to take into account some of the suggestions which have been made during the course of the debate.

In the light of the amount of time that we have spent on this issue and in the light of my earlier commitment, I have no desire to take this amendment any further and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Gray moved Amendment No. 110C:


After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--

HOUSE OF LORDS: NAME (NO. 4)

(" . On the coming into force of this Act the House of Lords shall cease to be so known.")

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 110D which is also in my name.

The fundamental objection to the Government's proposed reform is its two-stage nature and that there is to be a transitional House. Who knows how long that will last? It may be for years. It is of the utmost importance that those outwith Parliament should be brought to the realisation of what has been done if this Bill is enacted. They must realise the change of

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character of the House and that their expectations of it should not necessarily be the same after all but 90 hereditary Peers have gone. That is no reflection on the 90 hereditary Peers who are to stay nor on the many worthy life Peers. It simply recognises that the voices and votes of many who have often been wise and influential will be gone. Others will have arrived. The make-up of the House will have been completely altered. Talents will be different and the balance will be different. The consequence is unpredictable.

If we do not change the name and omit "Lords" from the descriptive title of the House, the electorate will be misled. If we do not change the name, the electorate will not be reminded regularly that reform is incomplete; and reminded they should be.

My Amendment No. 110D suggests "Senate" may be adopted. That is probably premature and more suited to stage two. However, as an aside, judging from the Government's submission to the Royal Commission, "supreme quango" may be a better description of that stage.

It is important that the name changes at the end of stage one, regardless of what happens. Noble Lords will still be noble Lords. Nothing will affect that. In view of the reported views of the Leader of the House, I hope that she will find one or other of the groups of amendments attractive.

I imagine, under my proposals, that it would be open to anyone to discard their in-front titles. I emphasise that none of my amendments would necessitate anything like that. Noble Lords will still be here and will probably still call themselves "noble Lords", but at least the public, who do not perhaps realise what is happening and by and large do not know the difference between a hereditary Peer and a life Peer, will not be misled. I am simply attempting to remove the word "Lords" from the description of the House. I beg to move.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Eden of Winton: With respect to my noble friend, perhaps I can explain why I do not agree with his proposition. As the nature of the House will change due to the passage of the Bill, it is interesting to put forward a variety of suggested names. None the less, I believe that bringing forward a new name for an interim House and another name for the House at the end of stage two would lead to some confusion in the minds of the general public. I believe that it would be better to proceed with the name "House of Lords" during the interim period. During the course of debates on stage two, no doubt the fundamental argument about a change of name will arise.

I suspect that many noble Lords will have views of their own as to what would be an appropriate title for the second Chamber in Parliament. No doubt there will be as many different opinions on how Members of this House should be identified in the future after the enactment of stage two.

Perhaps I may interpose my own preference, for what it is worth, which is of no greater or lesser importance than that of any other Member of this House. From my

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point of view, it would be quite acceptable that this House should continue to be called the "House of Lords", whatever changes take place, and that Members should be known as "Members of the House of Lords", taking the letters "MHL" after their names, just as Members of the other Chamber take the letters "MP" after their names. I believe that that would distinguish Members of the peerage who are serving Members of this House from Members of the peerage who are not serving Members because they will have been disqualified by virtue of the passage of this Bill.

I understand the substantial point being put forward in the amendment moved by my noble friend; namely, that the House is to become different from that which we know today. I hope that that difference is to be of a temporary nature only. Therefore, I believe that it would be wholly appropriate that we should maintain the name and maintain in the public eye the fact that it still is a House of Parliament, known as the "House of Lords", which comprises some hereditary Peers, and that it will continue to debate and discuss the nature of the substantial changes to be comprised in stage two. For that reason, I would find it difficult to support my noble friend.


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