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I do not accept my noble friend's point. This is one of the fears to have emerged from the debate that I do not share. We should be optimistic about what we are considering. The same applies to hybridity. Many have said that they think, as my noble friend Lord Rees said, that the country would not be impressed by a hybrid solution. I do not take that view. The mixture of appointed and elected is perfectly acceptable. Again, I note that in yesterday's debate in the Commons the Leader of the Commons, Mr. Robin Cook, said:
We have all travelled and met a lot of parliamentarians in different parts of the world. I have never, in 35 years in politics, heard a complaint about a mixed upper Chamber that was partly elected and partly appointed.
Two problems worry me considerably; the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, raised both and I agree with her on them. The first is the method of the election of elected Members. It is extremely important that they should be well known in the area in which they stand. Speaking in another place yesterday, William Hague suggested that tagging a vote for the European elections on to elections for the upper Chamber was likely to lead to a lower rather than a higher turnout. There is probably a good deal of justice in that view.
We must ask the committee to think carefully about the method of elections and the method of choosing the appointed Members to the upper House. The noble Lord, Lord Armstrong, spoke on that with great attention to detail. How members of the independent commission are chosen is important. We cannot all be cronies of leaders of political parties.
There should be one term only for the elected Members, possibly for 12 to 15 years. The same should apply to nominated Members. If some are paid, all should be paid. I hope that a high proportion of appointments would go to Cross-Benchers with no political allegiance and committed not to take the Whip, thus keeping a continuity of independence.
It is clear that once we have elected Members, our relationship with the Commons will change. Indeed, the effects of the change will be more substantial for the Commons than for us. I agree with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Gordon of Strathblane, that we need to look carefully at our powers and the powers of the two Houses. It is arguable that the Parliament Act 1911 is totally out of date. Why, after all, should this House have the power to delay money Bills for one month? It is irrelevant, it has no meaning, yet it is in the Parliament Act. If we are to have extremely rapid changes of a constitutional natureif we are, for example, to have a Bill to set up directly elected assemblies in England, which would mean a substantial removal of power from this House and another House to elected Assembliesis it adequate to be able to delay such a Bill for only one Session rather than two? Is this not an area that requires deeper consideration?
The whole question of powers has been skated over far too lightly. Why? Because we assume that the Commons will not be willing to give us any enhanced powers. Surely, however, this is the moment to consider that carefully. If we do not do it now, we will not do so at any other moment in our lifetime. Powers moved from the upper Chamber throughout the last century because it was essentially hereditary. If it is not to be hereditary but to be largely or partly elected, it is surely the moment to reconsider the balance of powers between the two Houses.
I personally will vote for the 50:50 option at the start. I would accept that we should move towards Option 6 at the time of the second election in 12 or 15 years, during which time a number of life Peers will literally have ceased to be life Peers. But, and this is a big "but", associated with this I hope that there will be a review of the powers of both Houses to ensure that they are appropriate to the problems and challenges of today, which were non-existent in 1911 or 1949.
I agree with the point that this House needs to get to know the other House better, and the other way round. One way of tackling that would be to have many more joint Select Committees on foreign affairs, home affairs and perhaps on terrorism. In that way, we might all understand and appreciate each other better. We might stop thinking of the Commons as impotent tools of the executive and they might stop thinking of us as old codgers who unnecessarily delay their legislation. Twelve years ago, when I was the Government Chief Whip in the Commons, that was precisely the view that I had of the Lords. We must hope for a much better
Viscount Tenby: My Lords, to continue the numbers theme of the last two speeches, speaking at No. 77 in the speakers' list, at the back end of the day, I feel like a member of the chorus of "Guys and Dolls" in the third year of its run. I shall try not to stray into repetitionbut if I do, I remind noble Lords that good tunes bear repetition.
I begin by declaring a non-interest, in that whatever solution is reached in the final reform of the House will not affect me. Although after my contribution, I may be charged with the offence of boring for Britain, I cannot be charged with the offence of self-interest. I am innocent of that charge. Paradoxically, there is, and has been for a long time, an acute family interest in the composition of this House, to which over the years I have inevitably succumbed.
I begin by congratulating the Joint Committee on producing a judicious and balanced report. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that it could not have been presented more skilfully and sympathetically than it was by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon.
On occasions such as these in the old days, speakers were invariably tempted towards the pages of Bagehot. I notice that no one has tried that in this debatealthough your Lordships' may have sinking hearts when you hear that it is a temptation to which I am going to succumb, but here goes.
That is a great parliamentary and constitutional authority, writing some 131 years ago. In my submission, what was true then remains as true today, and it is that which prompts me into being an uncompromising supporter of an all-appointed House.
I was interested to hear of the experience of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, at a public meeting in Suffolk yesterday. When I first started promoting this proposition nearly a year ago, I feared for my safety, so novel appeared to be my view. However, I have to report that at no meeting of the public, nor at any of the courses that I addressed, did I encounter outright opposition to the suggestion of an all-appointed second Chamber. Indeed, I received much support.
We have all heard about legitimacy. I am sorry to have to use the word again, but here goes. In a democratic system of government, the principal legitimacy is surely that of the ballot box. On that basic fact, everyone can and has agreed. However, there are other legitimacies: the legitimacy of expertise, of experience andhow can I say otherwise in a House such as this?even the legitimacy of age. All these are not only useful in an amending and examining Chamber but essential if the role assigned to it is to be discharged effectively.
In a "take note" debate as large as this, with so many speakers, I am not going to dwell, as others already have or will do, on the arguments against an all-elected House. They include the threat that it would pose to another place; the poaching and struggle for territory that would ensue over the body of some poor constituent, equally represented by an MP and an elected senator, or whatever we choose to call him or her; the almost certain elimination of any independent element in such a House; and perhaps the extension of party machine control in the selection of candidates from closed lists. What an overwhelming depression and sadness there is in such a prospect.
If an elected element were agreed for the new House, it would impose another electoral responsibility on an electorate that has already shown, in unmistakable terms, that it needs to be reminded of that responsibility. It is surely an interesting paradox that the more that we as a society talk up inclusivity and the need for ever more citizen empowerment, the more election turn-out figures drop.
Perhaps noble Lords will allow me to remind them of some of the statistics; they bear repetition. The turn-out in the United Kingdom in the last three general elections has been: 1992, 77.7 per cent; 1997, 71.4 per cent; 2001, 59.4 per cent. In the European parliamentary elections, it has been: 1994, 36.5 per cent; 1999, 24 per cent. The turn-out for the referendum on the Scottish Parliament, in 1997, was 60.2 per cent. For the Welsh Assembly, it was 50.4 per cent. It was estimated that the turn-out for last year's local elections leapt to 34 per cent. Some eruption of democratic fervour there! "Drinks all round", as Private Eye would say. Yet here we are, some of us at any rate, in uncompromising pursuit of some unattainable ideal which will add not one iota to what this House requires for its specialised task.
Is it not the case that what we should be directing our attention towards is ensuring that there is a better turn-out for the only election which really matters in a democracy like oursthe one every four or five years for another place? That is where the power rightly lies. It is for those elections that we must somehow get the electors to realise their responsibilities and the special gift they have, which is alas denied to so many on this planet.
In the good old British "compromise is king" way, some would seek to create a hybrid House, perhaps 50:50 to ensure that everything is absolutely fair and everyone is absolutely satisfied, or any other combination of 100. I have to say that I am not attracted
I have tried to fathom the reluctance in some quarters even to embrace the concept of appointment to this House, and I have come to the conclusion that it rests entirely on an incipient defeatismnamely, the refusal to accept the fact that an appointments system that can succeed in picking the right mix of talent, that acknowledges regional and ethnic quotas, and that celebrates, by representation, the myriad strands of our national life can be fashioned successfully. We can send people into space and conjure up hitherto unimaginable technical wizardry, but we cannot, it seems, choose the right and the appropriate people to serve in an amending Chamber for fear, presumably, that the media will label such choice as the selection of cronies of this or that politician or say that they owe their preferment to favours given in the past. What an appalling admission of defeat at the outset, but it is an admission that I for oneand I hope many othersam not prepared to accept when it comes to voting on the options.
It will not have escaped noble Lords' attention that I have not talked about size600 should be near enough; the importance of maintaining a strong independent elementthe admirable Wakeham report was right, I think, to set it at 20 per cent; the admission of other faiths, which I strongly support; or age limitation, retirement and the like. However, those have all been covered in this debate and will no doubt be covered in any future discussions.
I have been in this place for some 20 years, not long by the standards of many here, but I have an immense affection for it and respect for the work it carries out. It is an essential part of the constitution and it is an exceptional contributor to the good governance of this country. I would wish to see this role enhanced and not diminished by our action, which is why, when noble Lords record their vote in a fortnight's time, I hope that they will keep this objective in mind and vote accordingly for the first option, for to vote for other options, no doubt for the best of intentions, would irreparably damage a system which, despite all logic, has served this country well over the centuries.
Lord Harrison: My Lords, may I observe that it is never too late for number 78? The role, powers and functions of the House of Lords are by now well-defined and accepted. It is its future composition that is in dispute. I believe that I have a practical solution to this conundrum which favours a fully appointed House but which also puts its voting arrangements on a democratic basis and avoids the pitfalls of hybridity
The team system builds on the Wakeham commission's suggestion that the composition of the Lords should reflect in its political proportions the results of the most recent general election. This is how it works. Each party is given a team of Peers from which it will draw its voting strength. The numbers in each party's team will be decided by an appropriate independent body such as the appointments commission, which will meet regularly to take account of changing political patterns and strengths. Each Peer will serve 10 years, unrenewable.
Assuming a House of some 650 Peersalthough the system allows this number to be drastically reduced, if required, without creating turmoila current formula might result in the following sizes of teams: Labour, 200; Conservative, 200; Liberal Democrats/others, 150; Cross Benches, 100. With the exception of the Cross Benches, who would always have a total of 100 votes for their team of 100 Peers, each of the other political groups would have their voting strength calculated as a proportion of the popular vote cast at the most recent general election. Thus, say, for argument's sake, Labour's 40 per cent of the popular vote would provide 120 votes out of a team of 200; the Conservatives' 35 per cent would provide 105 votes out of a team of 200; the Liberal Democrats and others' 25 per cent would provide 75 votes out of a team of 150 and the Cross Benches would wield 100 votes out of a team of 100. Thus, the total votes available in the House at any one Division would be 400, made up of Labour, 120, Tory, 105, Liberal Democrats and others, 75 and Cross Benches, 100.
Peers would be appointed to the teams by the individual political parties and vetted by the appointments committee. Like the noble Lord, Lord McNally, I decry the current vogue of undermining political parties. Nominating Peers under the team system is analogous to the selection of MP candidates by political parties as the means of gaining election to another place. Nomination is at the heart of the British polity.
The voting position of each member of the group within their own team is determined annually by an internal ballot. Each Peer, for example, would therefore be given a position for the year from one to 200 within their political team. Thus, at each Division in the House using this system, Labour's vote may be made up of Labour Peers numbers one, three, four, eight, 14, 23 and so on up to 198, 200. The Tory vote may be numbers three, six, 11, 14, concluding at 195, 199. And so on. All votes should be recorded and published, as they are at the moment. But, of course, the result of an individual
In the final composition of the House under my system I retain the Cross-Benchers but exclude the Law Lords and the bishops. The team system, however, is infinitely adaptable and can retain one or both of those groups if that is the will of the House. What, then, are the advantages of the team system? First, the system is democratic. Its outcomesthe votesare directly based on the recognisable voting strengths derived from the most recent general election. Unpopular, additional elections to the Lords are avoided. Secondly, the Lords' democratic legitimacy is concurrent with that of the Commons but in no way undermines it.
Thirdly, the Cross-Benchers are retained, continuing the tradition of independent thinking which marks out the Lords as a unique second Chamber. Fourthly, the team system can be enacted immediately after a general election and can be effective from the start of a parliament. It avoids the wholesale ejection of Peers at the turn of each new mandate. Fifthly, it avoids a hybrid House of directly elected and appointed Peers. It does, however, accommodate both working and part-time Peers on an equal basis as part of the unique contribution of the current House. Sixthly, it provides an easy bridge from the current House to any new reformed House. Again, there is no requirement for wholesale changes in the current political teams. It allows further changes in the size of the House, because the size of the teams can be reduced without affecting their voting strengths. Of course, it also permits new appointments to be made to provide the House with new blood.
Seventhly, the system would allow all Peers to have the same speaking, voting and other rights in common. Eighthly, my idea allows parties to retain and honour senior party supporters without requiring them to be permanently on call as voting fodder. Peers who were unwell, absent on business or otherwise unavailable would not be found to be letting their party down.
Ninthly, the votes in the House will directly reflect voters' intentions at the previous general election. Moreover, the Whips will be able to field their established voting strengths, and the system will also give Ministers greater flexibility to perform their duties outside the House.
Tenthly, my proposal permits political parties and the appointments commission that chooses the Cross Bench team to reflect modern Britain in all its celebrated diversity, in terms of representation by sex, religion, ethnicity, nations and regions, and so on.
The team system would enact and extend the elements of this current reformed House, which has so successfully demonstrated that, in the best of British traditions, what does not work in theory may nevertheless supremely work in practice. Today's House can become tomorrow's House using the team system, and I commend it.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I shall be very brief. Many others who also value and would prefer an all-appointed House have given their important reasons for having come to that view. My reason for speaking tonight is simply to add my name to those voices. I also want to highlight one of the many important reasons which I think is central to the whole issue.
What this House does best is to be a revising Chamber, to scrutinise impartially, to revise, to amend and, in many cases, to give another place an opportunity to think again. Most noble Lords would agree that that is a very important function in this day and age, given that so many Bills and so much legislation comes to this House hardly debated, let alone scrutinised.
For this House to continue to do that work in the way in which it has done, it must be able to use its experience and, in many cases, its specialised expertise. I believe that it does not need elected Members who, by the very nature of having stood for election, will want more power. More than that, they will have to dance to the tune of the party Whips.
When my noble and learned friend introduced the Motion with excellence yesterday, he referred to the expertise and experience of the many Peers who spoke on what was then the Human Reproductive Cloning Bill. If their experience and expertise were to be lostindeed, if that of other noble Lords were lostit would be a great tragedy for this House. I very much hope that that never comes to be.
I agree with other noble Lords who feel that if the House has to be tinkered with in some way, it should only be to improve itif somehow or other that could be achieved. The House should never be tinkered with to turn it into a rubber stamp for the government of the day.
Lord Plant of Highfield: My Lords, I want to deploy an argument that I believe is very unpopular in the House; namely, that ideally the House should be replaced by a small, wholly elected Chamber that is elected regionally using a form of proportional representation.
The size of such a full-time Housesay, half the size of the House of Commonsthe difference in its representative base and the difference in the electoral system would increase the legitimacy of the second Chamber compared with any alternative. At the same time, that would not increase its legitimacy so much that it would be a rival to the House of Commons. The size of the Commons and its constituency basis would
Of course, a wholly elected House would mean that there would be no independent Members unless they could get in via the low threshold. However, the PR system would mean that all the time the government would have to seek a wider basis of consent for their proposals than just from their own supporters. It would also mean that there would be no ex officio experts, as it were, in the House, other than those who got elected. I believe that that defectif such it iscould be overcome, in the Lords at least, by opening up the legislative process and taking evidence from a wide range of expert witnesses; for example, at pre-legislative hearings on Bills. That wider range of experts might be more valuable than the smaller number of resident experts in the current House.
It would also mean that the Law Lords would have to be turned into a supreme court and sit outside the Parliament. I fully recognise the implications of that. I point out, however, that there are pressures for that to happen anyway, not least because of the passage of the Human Rights Act, irrespective of any pressures coming from the reform process in the Lords.
A wholly elected House would also mean no ex officio religious representation. I am personally opposed to thatI say this rather deferentially, because my diocesan is on the Bishops' Benchalthough I am a life-long member of the Church of England. It is difficult to defend its current narrowness and difficult to widen it to other faith groups without intense controversy and possible discrimination against perfectly legitimate religious groups. It would be interesting to have the first Rastafarian here, for example; I see no reason why, if one was extending religious representation, a Rastafarian should not be here as much as anyone else. But I am not in favour of religious representation ex officio.
In his speech yesterday, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, was kind enough to draw attention to the report of the commission that I chaired for the Labour Party on various aspects of constitutional change, which reported in 1993 and which unanimously endorsed the proposals about which I have just spoken, although they were argued about in much greater detail in that report. My great friend, the noble Lord, Lord Hattersleywho was then my right honourable friend in another placealong with Mr Kinnock, appointed me to do that job for the Labour Party. When the report was published, Roy Hattersley pointed out in the New Statesman that I was a political innocent; and I do not believe that he meant that as a compliment.
There were, however, heavyweight people on the commission who certainly could not be regarded as such innocents, including, for example, my right honourable friends in another place Mr Geoff Hoon, Mr Alistair Darling, Mrs Margaret Beckett and Hilary
However, I am sufficiently realist to accept that the proposal stands absolutely no chance of acceptance. I want to argue the case for a House in which 60 per cent would be elected and 40 per cent appointed. My fundamental guiding idea is that political power and authority in a free society can be legitimately exercised only with the consent of those over whom power is exercised.
In passing, one or two noble Lords have emphasised the concept of respect. It seems to me that, while it would be nice if people respected politicians, that has nothing to do with the issue. What is important is whether one can support politicians in their bid to enter Parliament and whether one can kick them out, and not whether one respects them.
Elections are the primary basis for testing and securing consent. I realise that many people in the House believe that consent and, therefore, legitimacy can rest not only on election but also on a recognition of expertise and appropriate experience, as the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, has just said. That issue goes back to Plato's arguments in the Republic.
I am willing to accept that it is true that expertise can secure consent in certain circumstances. I may consent to have an operation because I trust the expertise of the doctor in diagnosis and prescription. But there the expertise is instrumental; it is a means to an end. I want to be healthy and here is an expert who will tell me the best way to achieve that. The expertise is about means and not about ends.
However, most political questions are ultimately about ends. Do we want a more equal or less equal society, more liberty and less equality, more freedom and less security, and more rights and fewer responsibilities, or the other way round, and so on. Those are questions about ends and, because of that, they are not subject to expertise. There are no experts in questions of ends. In a free society, questions of ends and ultimate values are for citizensat least, in the political contextto judge and to choose.
Obviously there is a role for experts in determining the appropriate means to achieve ends. For those reasons, I am prepared to accept that there is a case for nominating Members of the House who would have appropriate expertise to enable us to match means to ends more efficiently in the details of legislation. I can see that legitimacy and, indeed, consent can derive from that.
However, I do not see how the legitimacy of the whole Chamber can come from expertise because, as I said, some of the most intractable political problems are about ends, goals, purposes and values and not about means, and there are no experts in those things. There would be no point in saying that, as a revising Chamber, the House never really deals with ends, goals or purposes because, of course, it does. If it did not do that, there would be no point in having Second Reading debates, because those debates are about the principles and values that lie behind Bills. Therefore, we have debates about ends as well as means. It seems to me that those ends are a matter that people should stand for and be given democratic sanction to in an election. I accept that there are experts on means, and that might be the case for having nominated people in the House.
I want to mention two or three reasons why I believe that a wholly nominated House would be wrong. First, I very much agree with my noble friend Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe, who pointed out that there might be a danger in the independent appointments commission being perceived as the great and the good choosing the great and the good. I believe that problems arise regarding the perception of that type of role.
Furthermore, it would be wrong for nominated Members to draw a salary as opposed to allowances. That would be like being nominated for a private income. But the consequence of not having a salary is bound to skew a nominated Chamber in favour of those in the South East or those who have a short commuting distance to London so that they are able to have another job. Alternatively, it will skew nomination towards those who have a private income or those who are elderly and have a pension of some kind. I believe that there would be a geographical skew.
I also believe that a wholly nominated House would have to involve political appointees as nominated people. Parties are absolutely essential in a representative democracy. Without their capacity to aggregate interests into reasonably coherent programmes, it is exceptionally difficult to see how representative democracy can work. Parties do that and are indispensable. It seems to me inconceivable that a whole House of Parliament will be exempt from the kind of representation that makes representative government possible. Party Members should be a substantial part of a wholly-nominated House, if we were to go to that.
I also believe that in a wholly-nominated Chamber it would become impossible to resist the demands of groups of people for functional representation from the professions, business, the unions, the voluntary sector, universities and so forth. It seems to me that the House would become a kind of repository of vested interests seeking very often to defend such vested interests. Without wanting to be offensive to the many lawyers in the House, we need only to think about how over the 11 years that I have been here lawyers have been able to manage to defend their interests pretty well. A dynamic society in a global world facing challenges which we can hardly begin to appreciate
If we accept the principle of elections, as I think we should, it would be eccentric not to have more than 50 per cent elected. So, I would support 60 per cent. If one accept the political legitimacy of expertise, even in a limited way as I do, it would be important for the experts not to be just a rump. Therefore I would support 40 per cent nominated and 60 per cent elected. That would be a fair compromise between two contending principles of legitimacy.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, it is in every sense a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Plant. In this well-tempered debate I take a wholly divergent approach to what is called "legitimacy", which is referred to by some noble Lords as weasel words and buzz words. It is a term in context with democracy which means nothing unless one can define both, and no one can do that. It is a question of one's individual approach. There is no use looking in a dictionary. One can define it any way to suit one's purpose.
At the age of 86 I have a somewhat tenuous interest which may be ended all too soon, and not only by the grace of God. None the less, I care very much about this place and I am concerned with the retention of its constitutional role. I pay tribute to my noble and learned friend Lord Howe and all members of the Joint Committee. I shall vote for Option 1. I shall oppose all elective options. It is assumed that these elections will be conducted on a closed party list system, as I understand operates in the Scottish Parliament but I seek confirmation, which to my mind is a far less democratic approach than appointment by a non-political appointments commission.
This is where one starts again. What are we talking about? What do the terms mean? I see the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester in his place. We have disagreed on many things, but he would agree with me that if one does not define terms at the start of a theological discussion, one will get nowhere. I see that the noble Lord agrees.
No one has yet produced any convincing approach to a definition of anything that we are dealing with. The noble Lord, Lord Plant, said that he does not want to offend lawyers. We are so used to being offended that it does not matter at all. But, as a lawyer, I ask where on earth are we going? It is purely a reflection of our individual attitudes.
The noble Lord, Lord Renton of Mount Harry, has left his place, which is unfortunate because I was going to criticise his speech. He is a close neighbour of mine in Sussex. I would have done it in amity. I shall still say something about it.
The first thing is that the noble Lord has not yet gone native. That is the trouble. There is this question of the House of Commons. Of course it is very important. We understand our relationships under the constitution and, my word, we observe them by our conventions. But we will not get anywhere if we start
It is a dangerous concept because the report concludes that the balance of powers between this House and another place should remain much as it is. So why on earth are we talking about changing the Parliament Act? It is incredible, but there it is. We debate in amity. All I can say is that it appears to meand I hope my noble friend reads Hansard tomorrowthat his approach is wholly irrelevant to any constructive resolution of reform of both Houses.
I have something else that I want to say. The debate has got a bit scrappy. One cannot make a speech at this hour of night; everyone has said everything. It seems to me that, having listened to quite a bit of this debate, we should go to the crux of the matter. I regard the cruxthis is a purely personal approachof this debate, which polarises around Options 1 and 2, as being that composition should flow from the constitutional role as exercised with our powers, functions and conventions and not the other way round. The noble Lord, Lord Carter, said that early on in the debate yesterday, and it was confirmed again today by my noble friend Lord MacGregor and by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell. That is where one starts. If one has no definitions, one should start there with the argument and see where it leads.
What are these options? They are proposals as to composition. They may not be resolved before a decision has been taken on the constitutional role. That may not be forestalled or pre-empted. The report finds that the constitutional role should remain much as it isI have all the dreary references, if anyone wants to ask me for them. But that is what it finds; that is how it is.
So, for a start, what on earth is the need to tinker with composition? That is a simple approach, but I should like someone to give me an answer, because in this whole debate, as yet no one has dealt with that or given a cogent answer. Without that justification, changethe burden of which is on those who those who propose itcannot be accepted by a reasoned House. One's political party does not matter, or if one is not of a political party. It is a question of reason and of the constitution under the Queen and Parliament. For heaven's sake, let us not upset that.
Time goes on. Ten minutes is really quite enough, but there were other things that I wanted to say. I was going to argue against the propositions advanced by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and the approach of my noble friend Lord Wakeham, and say that his approach was one of compromise.
I have one more point, if I may make it, and then I promise to sit down. This is the kind of subject on which, frankly, you change your mind. Several Members of the House who have spoken have changed their minds. My noble friend Lady Thatcher set up a committee under Lord Home of the Hirsel to report on it. It reported in favour of a partially elected, partially appointed Chamber. My noble friend set up another committee of the Society of Conservative Lawyers; we reported in favour of a wholly elected Chamber. Times have changed. When, by chance, Lord Home of the Hirsel and I met here years later, over a wee dram we both said: "You know, we both got it wrong".
I want to report some progress. When the reform issue came before the House in 1998, I had the pleasure of speaking 183rd on a list of 192 speakers. Today, I speak 83rd out of 99. That is progress. The greatest thing is that the speech that I made then was made at twenty minutes to three in the morning of the second day.
I acknowledge that it has been a valuable debate. It has been informed by experience, reaction and crystal ball-gazing. I have been amazed by the number of people who can tell us precisely what will happen if a certain event takes place. I confess that I do not know. Whatever option is finally accepted, we must wait and see. I speak with a little experience, having been Opposition Chief Whip in this House and having served in the Whips' Office on both sides in another place. Mostly, I am informed, as many people are, by my roots and by my gut reaction.
In my pocket, I have something that I have used more than once before. It is a postcard of a poster that was produced by the Labour Party in 1910. The poster shows the doors of the House of Lords being battered down by the workers. On the back, it says:
I do not complain. We are having the debate because of the return of a Labour government in 1997. Otherwise, nothing would have happened. For 18 years before that, another party was in power. It had the opportunity to do something about change, and the fact that it did not indicates to me that it did not wish any change from the kind of House that we had then. I shall not get personal, nor shall I make
We have heard a lot of detail, and I could give the same. However, in essence, we are invited to considerhowever long it takes and whatever form it takeswhether the House should remain an appointed House or should have an elected element. We can choose from 100 per cent down to 50 per cent elected. I am in favour of the principle of democracy, and I equate democracy with election. Other people see it differently, but, as far as I am concerned, the difference between appointment and election is that one is democratic and the other is not.
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