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I turn to my final point. Many noble Lords who have spoken in this debatethe noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, is in his placeare conservatives, with a small "c"; I am sure that they would endorse that description of themselves. They are against change. The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, who resisted the first reform of the House, is now resisting the second; and if there are third, fourth and fifth reforms, we can be sure that the noble Earl will be in his place resisting them, too. I entirely respect the conservative views and I understand where they are coming from.
Despite the good changes that have been introduced, our procedures still creak. In my view, the role of the Whips in this place has increased, is increasing and should be diminished. The appointments system, even as revised, is not working. Noble Lords will not be surprised, in view of my earlier remarks, to learn that although I admire and will in due course miss many of my hereditary colleagues, I do not believe that it is acceptable to sit in this place by birthright.
So, I am a radical about this place; that places me in a minority, but I am used to that. I am a root-and-branch reformer. However, I reject one reform: that of substantial election, which would be a change for the worse, not for the better. When we come to vote on 4th February, I expect to find myself in the Lobby with some unfamiliar confreres. However, I am happy to unite with them to resist a fashionable nostrum that would do nothing to repair our existing faults and which would simply add some worse ones on top of them.
Lord Weatherill: My Lords, there is an anecdotal story of a former Speaker of the House of Commons who, faced with a difficult point of order, leaned forward and whispered to the learned Clerk in front of him, "What do I do next?". The Clerk leant back and gave him some wise advice, which was, "Sir, I should be very cautious". It is in that spirit that I approach the debate this afternoon.
I must confess that when I first joined the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform I had a slight inclination to support the Wakeham commission report, which was then supported by the subsequent government White Paper. However, the more that the committee probed the pros and cons of having elected Members of your Lordships' House, the more I came to the conclusion that the threats to the supremacy of the Commons were not only unacceptable but unnecessary. Despite previous votes in another place, many of my old friends down there now realise that there is a considerable threat to them if there were an elected element in your Lordships' House.
I shall not repeat the arguments that have already been made in favour of an appointed House. I wholly support the admirable analysis and conclusions of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe or Aberavon, and the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Norton of Louth, who is, as noble Lords know, chairman of the Constitution Committee.
I also support the comments of the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, about the importance of a Cross-Bench element in your Lordships' House. In a fully elected House there would be no place for Cross-Benchers; that is not an option that I support. The Joint Committee option of a partially elected House is also, in my view, suspect.
I was, until I handed over to a much younger manthe noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhewpresident of the scouts in Kent. I regularly visited constituencies in Kent, notably in the north of the county, where there were complaints that Members of the European Parliament interfered in affairs in constituencies. Members of the European Parliament are not, of course, always around; they should be, and frequently are, in Brussels or Strasbourg. An elected Member of your Lordships' House would have every right to go to those constituencies. There is no way in which those elected Members would not go to constituencies and preach their political gospels in the constituencies of Labour and Conservative Members.
Furthermore, to add yet another tier of government to the regions would create even greater apathy among the electorate, encouraging that quip of the much-lamented Lord Whitelaw about stirring up apathy. Is not one of the reasons that there is such apathy among the electorate that there are too many elections? We do not need any more.
By general acceptance, the present House is working well and performing its duty of scrutinising legislation, holding the Government to account and occasionally asking the Government to think again. I believe that we need to mark the lessons of history. When the people of the United States set about framing their constitution, it was envisaged that Congress would be, like another place, the dominant Chamber and that the Senate, like your Lordships' House, would be advisory and a longstop. Over the centuries those roles have been, to a large extent, reversed. Today, the Senate of the United States, elected by the statesor the regionsis more influential than Congress.
No former Speaker of the House of Commons would wish to see that as the legacy of his vote next week. Therefore, my vote will be for an appointed House. Despite what the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, said, I support the suggestion of our Convenor to adopt what I believe he calls Option 1A, if only to preserve the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, who would continue to entertain us with his speeches. Amusing though it was, his speech today contained some very cogent and important thoughts which I commend to your Lordships.
Lord Lloyd of Berwick: My Lords, I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, that the key question is whether there is any overriding objection to a hybrid or mixed House. If there is, then we are left with the simple choice between a fully elected or a fully appointed Chamber. My view is that there is no such objection. It is said that elected Members would always regard themselvesto use the noble Earl's phraseas the "top dogs" in any such House or as being in some way more legitimate than the non-elected Members and that that might lead to friction. I do not believe for one moment that that will happen. There never was any such friction between the life Peers and the hereditary Peers in the old House until perhaps right at the end, and I see no reason why it should be any different in a reformed House.
Therefore, I agree with the Royal Commission view that a hybrid House is not only workable but also highly desirable. A proportion of elected Members would give the reformed House that legitimacyI know that that is a word that the noble Earl does not like but for the moment I cannot think of anotherwhich it undoubtedly needs, especially if the elected Members are elected to represent the regions, which seems to me to be important. The balance of appointed Peers would give the House the independence and expertise which is also needed and which is often regarded as one of the great glories of the existing House. For those reasons, I agree very much with the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and also with that of the noble Lord, Lord Richard.
As for the ratio of elected to appointed Members, I would rule out Options 3 and 4 for the same reason as I would rule out Options 1 and 2. That leaves Options 5, 6 and 7. I shall vote for all three of those options but with a marked preference for Option 7the 50/50 split. In many ways, that seems to give us the best of all worlds. If I have read the Royal Commission report correctly, Option 7 corresponds with Model C, which had the support of at least some members of the Royal Commission. However, in a House of 600 Members, I believe that we should have 300 rather than 195 elected Members, as proposed by the Royal Commission.
An argument in favour of having 300 elected Members is that it would go a long way to securing something which I believe in the theatre world is referred to as "bottoms on seats". I think back to my time on the Review Body on Top Salaries in the early days under the chairmanship of Lord Boyle. I remember the great importance which he always attached to the concept of having a sufficient number of bottoms on seats. It is no good having Ministers addressing an empty House, as so often seems to happen in another place.
Three hundred elected Members would secure a sufficient number of Members to be present and carry out the work of the House but there would not be so many as to challenge the democratic supremacy of the
The non-elected Members should be appointed by the new statutory appointments commission, as suggested by the Royal Commission. Since they should, in my view, be non-salaried and, for the most part, independent, except possibly for some loose party affiliations, they would be likely to attend less frequently than the elected Members. But they would obviously take part, as they do now, in debates when their expertise was relevant.
Contrary to the view expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, I see no difficulty at all in having part of the Housethe elected Memberspaid a salary and part paid allowances, as they are now. If there is a difficulty, I have not seen it spelt out and I hope that, before the debate finishes, we shall know what that difficulty is.
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