As we said earlier, we welcome the attempts of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, to ensure that with this amendment the Bill does not affect the common-law Bolam test. On the overall Bill he has led a powerful campaign and is reported to have won the support of patients responding to the consultation and the publicity from Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care and other patient organisations. I was pleased that the noble Baroness, Lady Masham, raised a number of questions from Marie Curie about palliative care and the use of drugs arising from issues in the Bill, and I was grateful for the Minister’s very helpful response.

The General Medical Council has now given its support to the amended Bill and the Medical Defence Union has said that the amendments cover the main objections to the previous Bill. However, we have to acknowledge that some key stakeholders maintain that the Bill is not necessary because the existing law already ensures protection for doctors to innovate, and the current law and ethical guidance from the General Medical Council are clear. The Royal College of Surgeons still has strong reservations about the Bill, particularly about it applying to surgery, as we have heard. The Medical Protection Society still believes that it confuses rather than clarifies the law. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers says that the amendments make a confusing Bill even vaguer. The BMA still strongly questions the necessity and desirability of clarifying or changing the law. Action Against Medical Accidents, one of the leading patient organisations, still says that the Bill is fraught with unintended and dangerous consequences and will create a more bureaucratic system. Sir Robert Francis QC, while considering that the amendments have produced an improvement in safeguards over what was originally proposed, has said that serious problems remain. In particular, he is concerned, as my noble friend Lord Turnberg pointed out earlier, that the Bolam amendment, while restoring a level of safeguard, also has the disadvantage of restating Bolam in different language, leading to a real risk of confusion. His question is: why not just stick to Bolam? I would be grateful for the noble Lord’s comments on that.

Will the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, and the Minister tell the Committee whether they consider that the amended Bill now meets Dr Dan Poulter’s key test that I referred to earlier; namely, of not placing an undue bureaucratic burden on the NHS or not exposing doctors to a risk of additional liabilities?

I welcome the response of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, on the question of convening a round table, which I think will be a very helpful way of going forward. Obviously, it will never be possible to satisfy

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everybody’s concerns but, if the Bill is to be further supported, what steps will be taken by the Government to engage with stakeholder concerns?

Earl Howe: My Lords, the Government support these two amendments, which ensure that the Bolam test will remain unaffected by the Bill. In practice, this will mean that it is for the innovating doctor to decide whether to take the steps set out under the Bill or to rely on the existing Bolam test. In other words, there would be no requirement for doctors to follow the Bill when innovating.

The amendments clarify that, separate to the existing Bolam test which is applied by the courts, the Bill provides doctors with an alternative option for showing that they are acting or have acted responsibly. Furthermore, subsection (2)(b) of the proposed new clause provides that doctors are not negligent, and thus will not be judged adversely if their actions are later challenged, merely because they have not followed the Bill.

My noble friend Lord Kirkwood asked how the proposed new clause affects how a regulator approaches a complaint or fitness-to-practise procedures. This Bill addresses clinical negligence law and how the courts will assess these cases, not how the regulators will process fitness-to-practise cases.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wheeler, asked whether the Bill was necessary. The Department of Health’s consultation on the Bill revealed that some doctors find the threat of litigation to be a block to innovation, although this view was not universally held. The Bill is aimed at reassuring those doctors who feel unable to innovate due to concerns about litigation. There will also be many doctors who are not afraid to innovate and for whom litigation is not a material concern. Those doctors can continue to act as they have done previously and rely on the existing law of clinical negligence, or, as I have explained, they may choose to take advantage of the Bill instead.

I hope that noble Lords will accept these two amendments, which give flexibility and choice to doctors who want to innovate.

Lord Winston: There is something troubling me here. Let us say that somebody in an emergency or other situation does not have a chance to go through the required tests stipulated by the Bill, consulting other individuals who may be confident about or more experienced in that position. I still do not understand in the context of what the Minister has just said where that individual stands in innovating without those permissions. Is that still part of the Bill? How does that work? Is there a risk of that person being irresponsible in view of his not fulfilling what is required in the Bill when he is innovating?

1.15 pm

Lord Woolf (CB): My Lords, before the Minister replies, perhaps I could just make a comment. I have resisted getting involved in the various excellent speeches that have been made so far. While I am on my feet, I make it clear that I strongly support the noble and

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learned Lord, Lord Mackay. There is a danger in looking at these as alternatives. If the matter comes before the court—of course, one hopes that it will not—the court’s approach would be to say that there is nothing in the Bill, because of the amendment we are now considering, which prevents the Bolam test being relied upon as it is today, without the Bill.

On the other hand, if the situation is one that enables the Bill to be relied on, that is another matter that the person can rely on. In some situations, such as a state of emergency, it may not be possible to rely on the Bill, but that does not prejudice the doctor involved in any way, because the Bill leaves the Bolam test intact. It is supplementing the Bolam test, and the importance of the fact that it is supplementing it is apparent in the fact that it states that if the doctor can comply with the Bill, he knows that he is safe and does not have to wait until the Bolam test has been applied to find out whether he is in danger. I think that that is understood. Does the Minister agree with my approach, which is that these are not alternatives?

Earl Howe: I completely agree with the noble and learned Lord’s analysis of the situation. I hope that that has been helpful to the noble Lord, Lord Winston. Earlier, the noble Lord cited an example where a doctor was confronted by an emergency requiring innovative practice. Whether the doctor was acting responsibly or not, and the consequences, will depend on a number of factors. It will depend on the extent to which the doctor is confident in his or her judgment, based on experience in previous clinical practice and can, if necessary, show to a court that what he or she did was responsible and, at least in intent, in the best interests of the patient.

The noble Lord asked whether there was a risk of a doctor being found to be irresponsible in some emergency situations where innovative treatment is practised. Yes, there would be a risk if the process outlined in the Bill were not followed—but that situation obtains today.

Lord Winston: Both the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, of which I am a fellow, and the Royal College of Surgeons in London, absolutely support the idea that surgery should be excluded from the Bill for this very reason: they consider that there might be situations where the courts become unnecessarily involved. That involves extra expenses to the health service because of our current concern with litigation. As the noble Earl well knows, in obstetrics, for example, litigation already accounts for a huge proportion of the expenses devoted to maternal care. There are considerable knock-on effects where litigation may be started because of lack of clarity. It is possible that I am being stupid—I recognise that I am not nearly as intelligent as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf—and I will have to go away to think about this, but there seems to me to be a misconstruction here which is puzzling and, I think, worrying.

Lord Saatchi: I hope that this may help my noble friend Lord Kirkwood. What we have just heard from the former Lord Chief Justice and the Minister is completely clear to me. I will try to explain it in this

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way: if the doctor feels completely confident that the innovation he is about to attempt will be approved when the Bolam test is applied in a subsequent trial, he will go forward with his innovation. If a trial then takes place, he either will or will not be proved right when the test is applied—that is, if he departed from standard procedure and decided to do it on the basis of his confidence that the Bolam test would make him innocent of negligence.

However, as we all know—this is fundamental to the Bill—if the doctor is obliged to speculate in advance about what might or might not happen in a trial, that raises a very high degree of uncertainty. If it is possible for a doctor to move the Bolam test forward and comply with it in advance, which is what would happen as a result of the Bill becoming an Act of Parliament, that would enable the doctor to move forward with an innovation without the fear that a subsequent trial will find him guilty. I therefore say to my noble friend Lord Kirkwood that what we have here in simple, plain language, is that the Bill is giving the doctor an option if he wants to be certain before he goes ahead with an innovation. It is not a requirement that he does that. If he is confident of the result of a subsequent application of the Bolam test, he does not need the Bill at all. It is a fundamental benefit of the Bill that it gives that option, which I think is a very simple one.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: Can I seek some clarification? I wonder whether anyone could make clear for the Committee whether, if the doctor says that he does not want to do the innovative treatment, there is a defence in court on the grounds that he thought that it would be unwise or unsatisfactory. I say this because everyone seems concerned about the effect of not doing something innovatory.

Earl Howe: I can reassure my noble friend on that score that a doctor’s clinical judgment not to go ahead with something innovative would be something that the doctor would be able to cite in court, if necessary, as being the most reasonable course to take in the circumstances.

Amendment 23 agreed.

Amendment 24 not moved.

Amendments 25 to 27

Moved by Lord Saatchi

25: Clause 1, page 1, line 25, leave out “section” and insert “Act”

26: Clause 1, page 2, line 1, leave out from “a” to end of line 2 and insert “registered medical practitioner;”

27: Clause 1, page 2, line 3, leave out paragraph (b)

Amendments 25 to 27 agreed.

Amendment 28 not moved.

Clause 1, as amended, agreed.

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Amendment 29

Moved by Lord Saatchi

29: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Effect on existing law

(1) Nothing in section 1 affects any rule of the common law to the effect that a departure from the existing range of accepted medical treatments for a condition is not negligent if supported by a responsible body of medical opinion.

(2) Accordingly—

(a) where a doctor departs from the existing range of accepted medical treatments for a condition, it is for the doctor to decide whether to do so in accordance with section 1 or in reliance on any rule of the common law referred to in subsection (1);

(b) a departure from the existing range of accepted medical treatments for a condition is not negligent merely because the decision to depart from that range of treatments was taken otherwise than in accordance with section 1.”

Amendment 29 agreed.

Amendment 30 not moved.

Amendment 31

Moved by Lord Turnberg

31: After Clause 1, insert the following new Clause—

“Code of practice

(1) The Secretary of State may issue one or more codes of practice in connection with—

(a) the process to be undertaken by a doctor before giving advice under this Act;

(b) the form in which the agreement required under section 1(2)(d) is to be recorded;

(c) the factors which the doctor should take into account in deciding to offer advice under this Act;

(d) requirements for making and keeping records required by the Act;

(e) such other matters relating to the operation of the Act as the Secretary of State thinks fit.

(2) Before issuing a code under this section, the Secretary of State shall consult such persons as he thinks appropriate.”

Lord Turnberg: As we have heard, my Lords, there is a degree of uncertainty surrounding certain aspects of the Bill that we have been trying to clarify. It is on that account that I have tabled Amendment 31, which sets out the need for a code of practice in which the Secretary of State describes in somewhat more detail what the Bill is about and how it should be enacted. I hope that it will be helpful to have that in the Bill.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate, both in Committee and at Second Reading. We are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, for listening carefully and bringing the amendments that he has today, and for agreeing to a roundtable discussion between Committee and Report, which is a very constructive response to some of the issues that have been raised.

I say at once that I am absolutely with the noble Lord on the need to encourage innovation in our

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NHS, but the more that I have listened to the debate, the more convinced I am that it is not so much a question of the law but more one of actual practice within our NHS. I am afraid that we have to face up to the fact that there is a culture of regulatory processes and funding procedures that often get in the way of introducing innovation. For me, the Act that the Bill will become will be a signal to the NHS.

The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, raised some interesting points about some of the problems that we have at the moment. He talked about off-label medicines. The Minister responded by saying that the Government are committed to innovation and gave a number of examples, which were welcome, but the point that I would put to him is that we now have a situation where NICE produces technology appraisals of new innovative procedures and drugs that clinical commissioning groups are essentially breaking the law by not implementing. He knows that they are under a requirement to fund the use of those procedures and medicines within three months of the technology appraisal being issued, yet we know from research by patient groups that the actual implementation is patchy. We could do an awful lot in relation to innovation if we insisted that people locally did what they were required to do.

My second point relates to the drug budget, an issue that the noble Lord raised. A few months ago the Government concluded an extremely interesting agreement with the branded drug companies, so that for five years the cost of branded drugs in England, apart from modest rises in inflation, will be fully met by the pharmaceutical industry. This is a very good agreement and one that I very much welcome. We still hear people in the NHS saying that they cannot afford the new drugs, yet the industry has promised to pay back any increase in the cost of those drugs over what they are paying now plus a modest increase in inflation. Here is a wonderful opportunity at last for the NHS to move quickly in widely adopting new medicines, but somewhere in the system someone is stopping it. I have read the NHS England five-year plan and it says nothing about the introduction of innovative new medicines.

I am sorry that this is a little outside the noble Lord’s Bill and I hope that he will forgive me, but this is about innovation. I am genuinely puzzled, and we will come back to this point, about why the Government did not rush to insist that the NHS took advantage of the agreement. In fact very few people in the NHS know about the agreement. My concern is that the rebates that the drug industry is going to give will be used for other purposes, which would be a very big mistake.

I hope that the Minister will agree to the amendment; I strongly advise him to do so, or at least to consider it. It is clear from the speeches that have been made that there is some confusion about the circumstances in which the noble Lord’s provisions are going to be made. Earlier in our debates, the noble Earl essentially said that doctors would have a choice when it came to whether, in relation to a given medical treatment, they would use this Bill’s provisions or rely on the traditional approach, the Bolam test. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, said that they are not alternatives

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and, in the circumstances raised by one noble Lord where there was not time to get the advice of the clinicians that is provided for in the noble Lord’s Bill, you would rely on the Bolam test. I am only a lay person, but I suspect that there is a risk of doctors not catching the nuance of that distinction. It is clear from the various letters that we have had from many of the medical bodies that there is some concern about this. I know that the noble Lord will speak and I strongly endorse his amendment on the regulation-making power, but I strongly advise the Government to agree to issuing guidance to the medical profession in this regard. There is a danger of some confusion and such guidance would be useful. If the noble Lord is not able to accept this amendment today, perhaps he will give it some further consideration.

1.30 pm

Earl Howe: My Lords, the Government’s view is that it is not necessary to include in the Bill a provision for the Secretary of State to issue codes of practice about the Bill, but I hope that I can reassure the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on the last point that he made. If the Bill is passed, the Government will work closely with the professional bodies, including the General Medical Council, to help doctors to prepare for the changes to the law. This will include producing any guidance that may be helpful.

I listened carefully to the points that the noble Lord made about the adoption of innovative treatments in the National Health Service. He knows from his experience as a Minister that this issue has been with us for quite a long time. We have silos of innovation and forward-thinking practice throughout the health service. The challenge has been to spread that innovative behaviour more widely and for the diffusion of innovative treatments to become second nature to the health service. It is a cultural issue.

The noble Lord is right to say that in many cases the non-adoption of NICE-approved drugs is a particular feature in parts of the NHS. That is exactly why the document Innovation, Health and Wealth was published some time ago. It is why we now have the NICE implementation collaborative, which is designed to bring together the key players in the system to ensure that NICE-approved medicines are adopted. There is the innovation score card, which helps in this regard. The academic health science networks are there to shine a spotlight on promising new innovative devices and medicines and to spread them at pace and scale throughout the health service. The early access to medicines scheme is another example of where we are trying to give patients access to innovative treatments, even before they have been licensed.

There is on occasion a good reason why a NICE-approved medicine may not be adopted by a particular trust. That is quite simply that for a given condition there are many alternative treatments, many of which have been endorsed by NICE. The Government cannot mandate clinical decision-making by individual doctors. Where there is a choice between one and another NICE-approved medicine available to a doctor, it is open to the doctor to make that choice. Nevertheless, the noble Lord’s basic point is well made and I hope

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that he will accept that the Government are taking a number of measures in conjunction with NHS England to ameliorate the situation.

I hope that, with the remarks that I made earlier about producing guidance, the noble Lord will be reassured and the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, will not press his amendment.

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, perhaps we could add this point to the discussions that we are going to have before Report. My noble friend the Minister expresses a modest view of what the Government should and should not do and wants to leave it to the regulatory bodies to make this happen.

I refer once again to anecdote. The noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, said to me at an early stage in this process, in which he has been a great inspiration, “What are you going to do after the Bill becomes law?”. I said, “I am going to go on a very long vacation”. He said, “Oh no you’re not”. I said, “Why not?”. He said, “Your work is only just beginning”. His point, and he speaks as an expert, is that a culture change is contained in this Bill. “Culture change” is a phrase that my noble friend just used, and it was used by Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, many months ago. A culture change is being sought, but it will not happen overnight. It will follow, exactly as the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, says, a great deal of education and discussion in the medical profession.

Not to go on, but the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, said that this will fall largely not just on the regulatory bodies, such as the GMC and NICE, but on the royal colleges. They will have to be involved in the process of educating people about what this means. This is the beginning of the process and I am rather with my noble friend in not wanting to have the Government set out the rules. I hope that that is acceptable to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt.

Lord Turnberg: My Lords, I am slightly reassured by the noble Earl’s comments that the Government’s intention is to produce some guidance with help from the relevant bodies. I am sorry that he does not think it necessary to have that in the Bill. I wonder why not. He has not explained why the amendment should not be there, because it sets out the need for such a code of practice. Meanwhile, however, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 31 withdrawn.

Amendments 32 to 34 not moved.

Clause 2: Short title, commencement and extent

Amendment 35

Moved by Lord Saatchi

35: Clause 2, page 2, line 9, at end insert—

“(1A) Sections 1 and (Effect on existing law) come into force on such day or days as the Secretary of State may by regulations made by statutory instrument appoint.

(1B) Regulations under subsection (1A) may—

(a) appoint different days for different purposes;

(b) make transitional or saving provision.”

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Lord Saatchi: My Lords, I also speak to Amendments 37 and 38 in my name and Amendment 36 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg. Amendments 35, 37 and 38 amend Clause 2 of the Bill on commencement and provide for the Bill to be brought into force by the Secretary of State. I am content with this change proposed by my noble friend, on the basis that it will allow time for the Department of Health and professional bodies to produce any guidance that may be helpful. Amendment 36 would stop the Bill coming into force on Royal Assent and would allow the Government to control commencement. The amendment has essentially the same effect as my amendment and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Turnberg, will be content not to press it. I beg to move.

Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope: Not to prolong events, I support Amendment 35, which I think is sensible. It is necessary to make sure that steps are taken so that practitioners are fully advised and informed in England and Wales about the provisions in the Bill. I assume that the answer to my question is yes, but can I have an assurance that the regulators have the full Section 60 power that they would need to implement this? If there is any doubt about the regulators not having complete legal cover, will the department make sure that any Section 60 provisions for those powers are put in place before these statutory instruments are brought forward, to avoid any confusion?

Lord Turnberg: My Amendment 36 has a similar effect to that of Amendment 35. Mine seems somewhat simpler, but I am quite happy to bow to Amendment 35 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi.

Earl Howe: My Lords, this group of amendments addresses how the Bill would come into force. My noble friend Lord Saatchi’s Amendment 35 would ensure that the Bill came into force in accordance with regulations made by the Secretary of State rather than on Royal Assent as under the Bill as introduced. This would allow the Government and the medical profession time to prepare for the changes to the law made by the Bill—for example, to produce any guidance that might be helpful. This amendment also enables transitional and saving provision to be made if necessary. My noble friend’s Amendment 35 achieves the same objective as Amendment 36, which the Government therefore do not consider necessary.

The Government also support minor technical Amendments 37 and 38, which clarify that the section in question comes into force on the day on which the Act is passed. I urge noble Lords to accept Amendments 35, 37 and 38, which would ensure a smooth commencement of the Bill, and I hope that my noble friend Lord Kirkwood will allow me to write to him on the question that he posed a minute ago.

Amendment 35 agreed.

Amendment 36 not moved.

Amendments 37 and 38

Moved by Lord Saatchi

37: Clause 2, page 2, line 10, leave out “Act” and insert “section”

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38: Clause 2, page 2, line 10, leave out “it” and insert “this Act”

Amendments 37 and 38 agreed.

Amendment 39

Moved by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

39: Clause 2, page 2, line 11, at end insert “but shall only come into force in Wales following legislative consent from the Assembly”

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, I will be brief; this will probably turn out to be a probing amendment. We have an interesting situation in Wales because health and healthcare provision is completely devolved. The experience of patients under the Welsh NHS falls completely within the legislative competence of the Assembly. However, if I am right, this relates to the law of negligence, and the Ministry of Justice does not have any devolved functions. The concern expressed to me within Wales has been about the use of resources and the possibility of practitioners being answerable as regards legislation that covers England and Wales, when the provision of healthcare is something for which they are answerable to the National Assembly. I tabled this amendment with a view to seeking clarification over that.

Sadly, we have had experience of extremely strange medical practices sometimes being put forward in the past. The Assembly is particularly concerned that, with its move toward prudent healthcare, which is a whole policy direction for NHS Wales, the Bill should not inadvertently cut across the principles of prudent healthcare, the first of which is, of course, to do no harm. I tabled the amendment with that in mind.

Earl Howe: My Lords, this amendment seeks to ensure the Bill would not apply in Wales unless a legislative consent Motion had been passed. The operative provisions of the Bill relate entirely to modifying the law of tort, which is a reserved matter. The Bill can fairly and realistically be classified as relating to a non-devolved subject, and therefore not within the competence of the National Assembly for Wales. The Government cannot accept this amendment, and I urge noble Lords to resist it.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: I am grateful to the Minister for the clarification. I expected that answer, but it is important to have it on the record. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 39 withdrawn.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported with amendments.

Mutuals’ Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill [HL]

Mutuals’ Redeemable and Deferred Shares Bill [HL]

Second Reading

1.44 pm

Moved by Lord Naseby

That the Bill be read a second time.

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Lord Naseby (Con): My Lords, noble Lords may wonder why I have become involved in the mutual world. I have to thank Peter Gray, one-time chief executive and chairman of the Tunbridge Wells Equitable and Friendly Society, who revitalised that society in the 1970s and 1980s, and the Association of Friendly Societies. It was he who inspired me to take a real interest and, as a result, I chaired that organisation from 1992 to 2005.

The other inspiration that has caused this Bill to see the light of day comes from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the right honourable George Osborne, who somehow persuaded the powers-to-be to make in the Conservative manifesto a commitment to mutuality both in the workplace and in the structure of the mutual financial sector. There are broadly five sectors of the mutual financial world. Building societies, credit unions and co-operatives have all been helped by the Chancellor already. However, two of the five have yet to be helped—namely, mutual insurance companies and friendly societies. Why do they need help? It is simply because, unless they can raise additional capital, they will never be able to expand or develop to their true potential. Indeed, unless they are helped, I suspect that they will either wither on the vine or demutualise. So we have today’s Bill, which has been in gestation now for close on two years, helped by the Treasury—and I pay particular thanks to the right honourable Sajid Javid MP and his successor in looking after this Bill, Andrea Leadsom MP, who have also helped it on its way. I have had consistent help from my noble friend on the Front Bench this afternoon.

The Bill refers to two classes of shares—deferred shares and redeemable shares. One of the key hurdles that I and my team have had to jump was to persuade the regulator that both those vehicles meet the requirements of Solvency II and would therefore be eligible for tier 1 capital, which is absolutely vital for development capital. We have been successful with the deferred shares element, but have not yet persuaded all parties that it is possible for redeemable shares as well. I therefore had to make a decision on whether to go ahead now with just the deferred element of the Bill, which goes a long way to help mutual insurers and friendly societies, or whether to persevere to try to persuade the authorities about redeemable shares. I decided, in the face of having only five months left of this Parliament, to drop the redeemable element. I suspect that my noble friend on the Front Bench will do just that in Committee, in moving certain government amendments.

I want to look at the effect of the Bill. Clause 1 gives powers to the Secretary of State to permit the use of a new class of deferred shares. That is on the assumption that the redeemable element was removed. This will affect industrial and provident societies, friendly societies and mutual insurers. Furthermore, holders of shares must be or will become a member of the Society of Mutual Insurers. To maintain the mutual characteristics of the organisation, they will be entitled to only one vote as a member, regardless of the value or number of shares they hold. They will be entitled to only the level of remuneration payable under the rules of the mutual. Deferred shares may entitle the holder only to repayment of their nominal value on the

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solvent liquidation of the mutual. This removes any risk of carpet-bagging by those interested solely in demutualisation. The power to make regulations under the Act is exercisable by statutory instrument and must not be made unless a draft of it has been laid before, and approved by, resolution of each House of Parliament—that is, the affirmative procedure.

I will not talk about Clauses 2 and 3 because they relate exclusively to redeemables. Clause 4 sets out how regulations may provide for a mutual to issue deferred shares,

“being shares that incorporate a term which prohibits the repayment of any principal to the shareholders save in either or each of the following events … the winding up or dissolution of the … mutual … in circumstances where all sums due from the society or mutual insurer to creditors claiming in the winding up or dissolution are paid in full … the granting of relevant consent by the appropriate authority … The memorandum or rules of any society or constitution of any mutual insurer may exclude or restrict the issue of deferred shares … A society may only issue deferred shares if it is authorised to do so by its memorandum or rules and a mutual insurer may only issue deferred shares if it is authorised to do so by its constitution”.

This means that no shares will be issued until the current members have approved it. However, the key benefit—this is absolutely crucial—is that these shares would, when issued, be classed as tier 1 capital and meet the requirements of Solvency II.

Clause 5 restricts the voting rights of holders of a deferred share and obviously will need amendment to remove “redeemable”. It means that if their only membership is via holding such a share, they may not participate in any decisions concerning amalgamation, transfer of engagements or conversion into a company or, in any case, a proposed transfer or sale of business or property under Section 110 of the Insolvency Act 1986. This is a further safeguard against the motivations for demutualisation.

Clause 6 sets out the proper legal definitions for the various types of mutuals affected by this legislation. Clause 7 is the usual Short Title, commencement and extent.

I would like to spend a few moments explaining why this Bill is so important. It is important because it gives access to new capital, particularly for friendly societies and mutual insurers. First, all mutuals need to be able to play a full part in our economy with diverse corporate ownership. Friendly societies and mutual insurers do not have the ability to raise capital that some co-operatives and building societies do, or indeed public limited companies.

Secondly, without new capital, many mutuals could be driven into inappropriate corporate forms through demutualisation. If more mutuals convert to other corporate forms, consumer choice would be reduced and large numbers of consumers would no longer have non-listed, member-owned options in the financial services marketplace. This both reduces competitive pressure from the operation of different business models in the same market and adds to systemic risk to the economy.

Thirdly, a lack of capital limits mutuals’ growth and the ability to develop new services. The growth rate of a mutual is constrained by its relative inability to add capital through retained earnings.

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Fourthly, like all businesses, mutuals need to be able to benefit from the economies of scale available only by growing their business. Mutuals need to gather sufficient capital to serve their members well, extend services to new members, expand their menu of services and achieve economies of scale.

Fifthly, it is important to learn the lessons from the recent financial crisis. If financial services businesses are to build up stronger capital bases, they require the legislative and regulatory agility with which to do so.

Sixthly, there are direct benefits of being able to issue these new shares. Debt, the alternative, is of a lower quality than equity for firms wishing to build their capital base. There is inevitably a limit to the amount of debt that can or should be raised. Mutual shares would therefore present an opportunity for small mutuals to raise funds that they may not be able to do otherwise, and for larger mutuals to raise tier 1 funds that subordinated debt does not provide.

These shares are alternatives to private equity buyout, which shows signs of growing. They are also alternatives to demutualisation, and this is crucial. When one looks back 20 years, the UK mutual insurance sector was the largest in Europe but now accounts for just 2% of mutual insurance premiums in the EU. Mutual insurers in 1994 accounted for 50% of the UK insurance market, and lack of access to capital was largely seen as the key reason for demutualisation. The small size of the market today means that any further demutualisation in the sector could hasten the entire sector’s early demise.

If the Bill goes ahead, mutuals will be able to source external capital without losing their mutual status, and some very specific benefits will follow. They could take part in tactical acquisitions, which will enhance their competitiveness. They could also look at local infrastructure potential. I shall give one example. In 2004, Family Investments friendly society and Brighton Council explored the concept of a city mutual. The idea was that Family Investments would raise a fund from its own capital and via a bond offering to local residents, which in turn would be used by the local council for a range of social housing and employment projects. Your Lordships may remember that on Monday I suggested something very similar for cottage hospitals. In the end, as far as the parties in 2004 were concerned, it was unclear whether the legislative arrangements were in place. This Bill will meet that requirement.

Finally in this area, there are a number of examples in overseas countries of similar mutual shares offerings. Examples from Canada and the Netherlands and across the whole European Union show how mutuals can enlist their members in raising capital through the issuance of new deferred shares. In summary, the benefits offered provide evidence that government support for the Bill would create a viable new opportunity for mutuals to attract new capital and deliver positive outcomes for mutuals and consumers.

The Bill has all-party support. Many colleagues have spoken to me in support of the Bill, and some have been good enough to write, particularly my noble friends Lord Hodgson and Lady Maddock. In the mutual world I have had wonderful support from

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organisations such as Liverpool Victoria, Royal London, Engage, Family Investments—steered so ably by John Reeve—and particularly Wesleyan Assurance, which is held in such high regard. Add to those the Association of Financial Mutuals, the Association of Friendly Societies and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals—chaired by my friend Jonathan Evans MP, who will steer the Bill through the Commons, given the chance—and, above all, Mutuo, with its energetic and knowledgeable director Peter Hunt. I thank them all. I beg to move.

1.59 pm

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for bringing forward this Private Member’s Bill for consideration in your Lordships’ House. This is the second time that he has tried to deliver these reforms. I very much hope that his Bill has a smooth and easy passage through your Lordships’ House. The co-operative and mutual sectors in the United Kingdom are very grateful to the noble Lord for what he seeks to do. This is a good Bill for a Labour and Co-operative Peer to respond to, and I am delighted to do so.

As the noble Lord said, the Bill in its simplest form will allow mutual societies to raise additional funds while safeguarding their mutual status. Why is that important? As the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, has told the House, the mutual sector faces significant problems in raising additional capital. By their construction they do not have equity shareholders. They were established to serve their members, who would be customers, employees or particular communities. Mutual businesses are strong. They grow patiently over a long time. They are very stable, but can also be said to be a bit risk-averse. It can be said that in some circumstances they struggle to respond to the ever changing needs and demands of their customers.

In large part, mutual organisations have not made major changes to their structures and have quite properly stuck to their founding principles. The Bill will enable them to continue to do so, but also allow them to raise additional capital by creating optional new classes of share through which specified mutuals can raise additional funds, provide defined rights to specified mutual society members and restrict the voting rights of certain members who hold only such shares, so that they cannot participate in any decisions to transfer, merge or dissolve the mutual. That is why the Bill is so important: it modernises the mutual structure, but also safeguards it.

A lot of excellent work has gone on looking at the problems of the mutual sector and also its great strengths. In addition to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, I pay tribute to my friend in the other place, the shadow Financial Secretary Cathy Jamieson MP, for the work she has done, along with the All Party Group for Mutuals mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, which produced an excellent report in September. I also pay tribute to the think tank ResPublica, which, in its report Markets for the Many, looked at how we create financial services that support small business and truly serve the needs of our citizens and communities.

It will be useful to look at the financial services scene to see why the Bill is so important and welcome.

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As the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, said, we have to learn the lessons. Following the financial crash there have been significant turbulent times and significant legislation has been passed, not least the Financial Services Act 2012 and the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013. These pieces of legislation are steps in the right direction, but we need diversity of ownership models in financial services to keep the sector healthy and encourage competition.

To diverge slightly, the rush to demutualise building societies in the late 1980s and early 1990s did not help consumers. All those former building societies either failed in their new-found status or were swallowed up by larger financial institutions. We know the names: Abbey National, The Woolwich, Halifax, Bradford & Bingley and many others. In the UK, building societies account for only 3% of banking assets; in many other parts of Europe co-operative and mutual banks have a much large share of the market.

There is a similar picture in our insurance sector. As the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, said, more than half of the UK insurance market was mutual in 1995, but since then, in fewer than 20 years, it has shrunk to 7.5%. In terms of our European neighbours, mutual insurers have a 50% market share in Holland and a 45% market share in Germany. The insurers demutualised in large part because they needed to raise additional capital and improve the products and services they offered to their customers. This process has not been beneficial to customers. ResPublica found in its research that policyholders often saw falling levels of customer service, higher levels of customer complaints and worse claims handling than was experienced prior to demutualisation. For example, Scottish Widows converted to a plc in 2000 and paid out a £6,000 windfall payment to each policyholder. However, prior to demutualisation it paid out £107,000 in 1998 for a 25 year with-profits policy based on premiums of £50 a month. From statistics posted in 2012, this had plummeted to £28,071, which was more than 34% less than the average mutual was paying out.

I do not intend to go on for much longer but I wish to say that this is a good Bill, a forward-thinking Bill and a Bill that seeks to protect our mutual societies, helping them to grow and compete on a more equal footing. It should have the support of the Government.

The Government should also do more to help the sector in general, as it has the potential to do real good in the UK. I like the suggestion that the Government should look at establishing a mutuals expansion project along the lines of the Credit Union Expansion Project. I think that there is a role for mutuals to help reduce financial exclusion, but they need the Government, the FCA and others to see that role for them and then enable them to deliver more financial products to those on lower incomes.

There are in general some very good Private Members’ Bills before your Lordships’ House and it is disappointing how so few of them make any progress. They are all committed to a Committee of the whole House but they then struggle to compete with other Bills in making further progress. Therefore, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Newby, to have discussions with the usual

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channels and also with the Clerk of the Parliaments about points 8.29 and 8.44 of the

Companion

. On my reading of those two paragraphs, there is no distinction between government Bills and Private Members’ Bills, and some Private Members’ Bills could be referred to a Grand Committee to deal with technical issues and speed up their consideration by this House. Just because we have never done that before does not mean that it cannot be done.

I will leave that point there and conclude by again thanking the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, for bringing this Bill forward. We are all very grateful to him and I hope that the Government help it to get on to the statute book and become law in this Session of Parliament.

2.06 pm

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, I begin by congratulating my noble friend on his work in this area over a number of years and on securing a Second Reading for this Bill, on which he has done an awful lot of work and which addresses a very important issue.

As the House knows, access to capital and credit is the lifeblood of any company, and the financial crisis and its ongoing impact have served to highlight this point in very stark terms. Mutuals are no different from other companies in that they need capital to extend into new areas, develop new products and services for their members, write new business or increase their financial resilience. However, the inherent design of mutuals can mean that they face difficulties when it comes to access to external capital, as noble Lords have pointed out. Mutuals are designed to serve their members, who will be customers, employees or defined communities, but they were not designed with capital investors in mind.

In broad terms, mutuals access their regulatory capital from retained earnings and by issuing subordinated debt. However, unlike other businesses, they cannot issue shares, which deprives them of access to the equity markets. They therefore tend to be restricted in how they can raise capital. Any capital for growth must be generated internally and that takes time to be built up. This patient and long-term approach is one of the hallmarks of the mutual sector and indeed one of its strengths. However, it can also limit the sector’s flexibility in adapting to new market conditions, as well as limiting a firm’s abilities to secure maximum investment in the business and to grow through acquisition.

Friendly societies and mutual insurers compete in a highly competitive UK insurance market, and the restrictions on raising external capital can place a limit on their ability to compete on equal terms with their public limited company counterparts. In the recent past, a number of friendly societies and mutual insurers have decided to demutualise, and in some cases the lack of capital was cited as a contributing factor to a mutual contemplating demutualisation. As both the noble Lords, Lord Naseby and Lord Kennedy, pointed out, this has led to a significant contraction of the mutual insurance sector in the UK.

The sector has made the case that current capital constraints are preventing friendly societies and mutual insurers acquiring other businesses that would strengthen the overall offer to members and policyholders. It may also be restricting these organisations in developing

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new or innovative products, especially if those products require material amounts of regulatory capital to be held. Growth in these areas would potentially be to the benefit of both with-profits policyholders and other members of the mutual.

The proposals put forward by the noble Lord in this Bill have been carefully drafted to provide these mutual organisations with a means to raise external capital in a way that preserves the mutual status of firms. The Bill addresses access to capital for two sectors: friendly societies and mutual insurers, and co-operative and community benefit societies. It provides that the Treasury may make regulations subject to the affirmative procedure to permit friendly societies and mutual insurers to issue deferred shares and to permit co-operative and community benefit societies to issue redeemable shares. The Government agree that the deferred share capital instrument for mutual insurers and friendly societies is a good way forward, and the mutuals have demonstrated a clear need and demand for this instrument. We therefore support these proposals in the Bill.

In respect of the proposed redeemable share instrument for co-operative and community benefit societies, the Government are unpersuaded about the merit of a redeemable share instrument as these societies already have a means of issuing redeemable shares. The Government do not see a clear need and demand for such an instrument, and as we have heard, in discussion with and the agreement of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, we propose to bring forward amendments in Committee to delete these elements. But with that caveat, I hope that noble Lords will support the Bill today.

Finally, I should like to comment on the two very specific suggestions made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, in his speech. He said that we should look at a mutuals expansion project to mirror that of the Credit Union Expansion Project. It is an interesting proposal and I will be happy to take it back to my colleagues in the Treasury. One of the challenges is how to recreate the conditions under which individuals feel that they want to invest their money in mutuals, take out policies of various sorts and engage in lending from them. I am a strong supporter of doing that.

As far as the way we deal with Private Members’ Bills is concerned, I have a considerable degree of sympathy with what the noble Lord said. I do not believe that the way they are being dealt with is as efficient as the way we deal with government Bills. Although it is far beyond my pay grade to suggest a way forward, I am more than happy to take his comments away. Apart from anything else, there is a real problem at the moment in that many noble Lords can secure a First Reading for their Bills, and then very often they—and more importantly, their supporters—think that those Bills are actually going to make progress. A huge amount of work goes into such legislation. Recently I was involved with a Bill that stood at number 25 or 30 in the list. A poor lawyer had spent months slaving over it. The promoter did not have the heart to tell that lawyer that, as I already knew, it stood zero chance of even getting a Second Reading. That is not sensible, and nor, frankly, are some of the subsequent ways of dealing with these Bills. This is not a matter for the

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Government but one for the whole House, and I am very willing to take it back, along with his other proposal.

With those comments, and with the caveat I gave earlier, I hope that noble Lords will support the Bill today.

2.13 pm

Lord Naseby: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have listened to the debate and I want to pay particular tribute to Her Majesty’s Opposition for the support that they gave me during the early stages of the Bill and then right through until today. I will refer to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, as my noble friend because he has worked very closely with me on this, and I wish to give him my thanks and appreciation for all the trouble he has taken. Finally, I have to say to my noble friend to whom I have already referred that he is an extremely patient and persistent man. Without that attribute, this Bill would not be before the House today. It remains for me to hope that it will get a fair wind, that people will be conscious of the time limit of five months, and that the processes in both this House and another place—which I know only too well—ensure that this really worthwhile piece of legislation can see the light of day and be put on to the statute book. Without further ado, I hope that the Bill will be given a Second Reading.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Bill [HL]

House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Bill [HL]

Second Reading

2.15 pm

Moved by Baroness Hayman

That the Bill be read a second time.

Lord Newby (LD): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Baroness Hayman (CB): My Lords, I express my gratitude to all noble Lords who are to speak in our debate today. Their commitment reflects the seriousness with which this House views the issues raised in the Bill. It is a brief and straightforward measure and I shall try to be brief and straightforward in what I say. But brevity does not mean that it is insignificant in its content.

I have brought the Bill before the House because I believe that by enacting its provisions we could complete the series of reforms that have been made to the House’s conduct, investigative and disciplinary systems

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since the events of 2008-09, and fill two important lacunae in the sanctions available to your Lordships’ House.

Noble Lords who were Members of the House at the time of the expenses and cash-for-questions scandals will remember all too well the public opprobrium heaped upon us—upon the House, its financial support systems, those who misuse those systems, often those who simply use those systems, and on the House’s enforcement and disciplinary processes. Some will also remember the conflict and confusion with which the House was faced over the existence or extent of powers to take action in the case of wrongdoing.

I am delighted to see the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, in his place today; the whole House owes him a debt of gratitude for his crucial role at that time in clarifying that the House does indeed have powers to suspend Members found to be in breach of the Code of Conduct in particular circumstances, albeit for a limited period, and obviously it is that limited period with which the Bill deals.

Since those dark days, we have in fact made progress in a number of areas. The system of financial allowances has been radically overhauled and made simpler and more transparent. The Code of Conduct has been amended to make clearer the high standards of behaviour expected of Members. We have appointed an independent Commissioner for Standards to investigate cases of alleged wrongdoing. The role of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct has been clarified, and I am delighted that the chair of the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, is to speak in today’s debate. Lastly, the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 has itself made provision for the expulsion of Members who fail to attend the House for a Session or more, or who are convicted of a serious offence entailing a prison sentence of at least 12 months.

My Bill seeks to do two things that would, I contend, complete this raft of reforms. One relates to the issue of suspension. The limitation on the length of a suspension to the remainder of the Parliament in which it is in force is set out in the 2009 report of the Committee of Privileges. As I said, it was based very much on the advice of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern. However, although it has proved helpful that that power exists, there remain problems. The basic problem is that a completely different range of sanctions are open to the House to impose at different stages of the parliamentary calendar. Were a Member to be found to have transgressed at the beginning of a Parliament they could in effect be suspended for four years or more. Were the same Member to commit the same transgression at this stage of this Parliament the possible sanction would be limited to four months or less. That is not logical, I contend, nor is it satisfactory for either the House or the person involved.

My Bill would empower the House to make Standing Orders to enable a suspension to be imposed that would run beyond the end of a Parliament and during that time the right to receive a Writ of Summons would be suspended. The House would also be given

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the power to enact in Standing Orders the ability to expel a Member in circumstances other than the narrow ones set out in the House of Lords Reform Act 2014—non-attendance or being subject to a prison sentence of more than a year.

Expulsion is obviously a hugely weighty and serious step. I profoundly hope that with this Bill on the statute book and the Standing Orders in place this provision would simply lie unused and there would never be conduct that would provoke the possibility of the House being asked to agree to expel a Member. However, it would be irresponsible not to have such a provision in place when all of us can envisage circumstances—it might be repeat offences against the Code or Conduct or sentences for criminal offences that were less than nine months or were suspended—where the House would wish at least to have the opportunity to consider expulsion and to decide whether it would be the right course of action. In such circumstances, I believe that not having that opportunity would provoke significant public disquiet and criticism of the House. That is not just a belief but based on experience. All noble Lords know that the House has come into disrepute and been criticised for that lack of ability. For us simply to throw our hands in the air and say that there was no option of expulsion open to us would not be satisfactory. We have, in this Bill, at this time, the chance—if I can put it that way—to shut the stable door before the horse has bolted; not to be scrabbling around in the midst of a crisis to see what we could do that was appropriate. I hope very much that the House will take that opportunity.

My Bill is enabling, not prescriptive. It does not lay down in detail the circumstances in which these sanctions would be appropriate or specify the processes the House should adopt in its disciplinary proceedings.

We are lucky in this House to have Members with significant and judicial experience to guide the House in the painstaking task of drawing up the appropriate Standing Orders. That in one sense is a lock: getting the Standing Orders right and those being approved by the House, and making sure that we deal fairly and appropriately with the regime. The second lock is the fact that the whole House would again have to agree to a recommendation from the disciplinary committees of the House that such an expulsion should take place.

This is not a new idea. Provisions similar to those in my Bill were included in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill of 2010 but lost in the wash-up and therefore not included in that Act, and in the Government’s own House of Lords Reform Bill of 2012, from which the provisions of my Bill are taken word for word. Equally, and as another guarantee of draftsmanship, the consequences of expulsion laid out in the Bill are taken from the 2014 Bill that was brought in by Mr Dan Byles in another place.

The view was rightly taken that these processes are for the House to lay down after careful consideration. I have no doubt that the House would behave with its customary sense of justice, its care and responsibility, both in drawing up the relevant Standing Orders and in considering any recommendation for expulsion or suspension brought before it under those orders, as it has in the past with recommendations for suspension.

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I return to my original words. This is a brief Bill. It could, with good will and a little support from the Government, become law, even within the short time available in this Session. I hope that the Minister will indicate that support today, because this Bill could contribute a small piece of the jigsaw in the painful work of rebuilding trust in Parliament and its institutions.

I end with the words spoken by the noble Lord, Lord Hill of Oareford, last December when bringing in his own reforms to the Code of Conduct. He said that,

“ultimately, the reputation of this House rests in all our hands, which is why I believe that noble Lords will want to support steps to strengthen the sanctions available to us”.—[

Official Report

, 17/12/13; col. 1143.]

I am introducing this Bill as such a step and I commend it to the House. I beg to move.

2.28 pm

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, I wish to support the Bill in both its branches. I shall take the suspension provisions first, although they happen to come second in the Bill, because it is out of that consideration that the first part of the Bill arises. As the noble Baroness said, this matter arose rather prominently some years ago. I was invited by the Privileges Committee to consider the position and came to the conclusion that this House had power to regulate what happened in relation to attending the House during a Session of Parliament. However, the obligation to attend the House sprang from a Writ of Summons issued at the beginning of each Session of Parliament. That power and duty of the Crown to issue a Writ of Summons to those entitled could not be interfered with by any kind of internal action of this House. The most that could be said—there was some question whether even this could be said, as your Lordships will remember—was that the House could suspend Members of the House from attendance during the remaining part of the Session in which the matter came up for consideration. Everyone who has looked at this is aware that that is a serious defect in the balance of the action available. As the noble Baroness said, it looks funny that at the beginning of a Session you can have a long suspension, with it gradually shortening until it becomes vanishingly small as you approach the end.

I am absolutely satisfied that the only way in which this House can deal with that matter is by having statutory power to do so, and that Standing Orders, as prescribed in the Bill, are the correct way to do that. Therefore, I warmly support that part of the Bill.

In addition, we have the question of expulsion. As the noble Baroness said, that is a more serious matter in quite a number of ways, but an important matter from the point of view of how the public look on continued membership of this House. We already have provisions in the statute that my noble friend Lord Steel of Aikwood introduced to deal with that in some circumstances, but not all. It is very desirable that powers of expulsion should exist in the House. That obviously requires statutory power to interfere with the right of a Member to receive a Writ of Summons

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at the beginning of a parliamentary Session. The Bill provides that that should be dealt with by Standing Orders of the House under the statutory authority of the Bill when it becomes law. It is obvious that the grounds on which such expulsion should be possible will need to be set out. Some may think that that should be set out in the authorising statute. On the other hand, I believe that there is enough need for flexibility as our experience continues to allow for a different method, and that is what the Bill allows: that the conditions for expulsion should be settled by Standing Order.

As the noble Baroness said, expulsion is obviously a more serious matter than suspension. It may be that in considering a Standing Order on that, further thought should be given to the procedure necessary in order that such a recommendation could be put to the House. I am glad that the noble Lord who chairs the sub-committee dealing with these matters is here and look forward to hearing what he has to say. We are extremely fortunate in this House in having a very fully qualified sub-committee to deal with questions such as the Bill would raise if enacted. As the noble Baroness said, it is important that any procedures adopted are seen to be fair and just to the House, to the public and to the individual Member concerned.

I strongly support both branches of the Bill and believe that it provides the best mechanism for reaching the necessary conclusion available in the circumstances.

2.34 pm

Baroness Taylor of Bolton (Lab): My Lords, we have had in the two opening speeches every justification that we might need for agreeing to this Bill. It is indeed a very short and significant Bill and I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on introducing it. I will be brief because, as she says, in one sense it completes one area of change that became necessary in this House in respect of discipline. It is right that we should move in this way and the work that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, has done has been incredibly helpful to the whole House. I think that is well appreciated by everyone here.

When we talk about these issues, we should not lose sight of the fact that the discipline which became necessary was because of the wrongdoings of a very few individuals. In both Houses of Parliament, the vast majority of Members are doing their job for the right reasons and in an honourable way. My noble friend the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, said that she hoped that these powers would not be needed; I think that we all hope that and do not expect them to be required in the foreseeable future. The problem that we have, as politicians in both Houses, is that very significant damage has been done to the reputation of politics itself. I hope that measures of this kind can help to restore some confidence that those of us here are keen to put our House in order.

If I may say one other thing, because the Bill should have a speedy passage and we should all be brief in our comments, more can be done to restore the reputation of this House. Other items of modest legislation, in the same vein as what the noble Baroness has introduced, could make some difference. There are

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also procedural agreements that we could reach in the House as to how we conduct our affairs, which would enhance its reputation. I remind the House of the debate that we had on 19 June on the document

A Programme for Progress

.

That report, as some may remember, was drawn up by a group of Labour Peers but what was significant about that debate was that the recommendations within that report had support on all sides of the House. There are measures there which could be taken by agreement or with modest amounts of legislation and would do significant good to the reputation of the House. On issues such as appointments, retirements, procedures and conventions I think there is widespread support. We should be considering those more because we could make some serious progress.

I notice that the Minister, who is in his place, is the same Minister who replied to that debate on 19 June. He may recall—if he does not, I have the Hansard reference—that he commented in col. 990 on the level of consensus across the House “on the way forward” and responded to a suggestion by saying that “informal, or perhaps … formal” conversations across the Chamber could be undertaken to try to make further progress. Despite the timescale of the next election, there are things that we could do which could move us in the right direction. I hope that the Minister will take that on board. In the mean time, I congratulate the noble Baroness on the Bill. I hope that it can have a speedy passage. I see no reason why it should not.

2.38 pm

Lord Phillips of Sudbury (LD): My Lords, I, too, thank and congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, on bringing forward the Bill. I am sure she will not mind my calling it a modest Bill because she herself acknowledged that. Both she and the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Bolton, referred to the context within which we are having this debate, which is one of unparalleled public mistrust. There is mistrust generally but, I am afraid to say, mistrust of Westminster in particular. It is idle for us to pretend that all the mistrust relates to the other place when we are caught up in its tentacles.

If one had a jury of good and honest men and women, unrelated to Westminster, who were to consider what the Bill is doing, they would be amazed that it is not already the law. It seems blindingly obvious, I suggest, that it should already be the regime by which we are here. We are here as an extraordinary privilege; I do not think that there is any greater privilege in this land than to be a Member of this place. We are not like Members of Parliament, who scrimp, save, work and year after year commit themselves to winning a seat in Parliament. When here, we do not labour under a set of obligations to our constituents in the way that they do, because we have none. Being here is an absolute privilege, and there comes with that a commensurate duty to police and regulate ourselves with absolute rigour.

Of course it is difficult—the law says impossible—for a man to judge himself, but we have to do our best, and there is no doubt in my mind that we should pass

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this measure not only without any reservation but with acclamation. My concern, rather, is that we are not going far enough, but I fully understand why the Bill is limited as it is, because we want to get this through before the election.

We also have to face up to the fact that there are some who do not want us to improve our affairs because they want a stronger case for a more radical reform, including election of this place. There is no getting away from it: they do not want accretional ameliorations. So I think self-reform is vital. This is the very least that we can do and it should be the first of many such measures.

2.41 pm

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB): My Lords, as your Lordships now know, I have the honour of chairing the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct, which is a sub-committee of the Committee for Privileges and Conduct. In that capacity I greatly welcome the Bill and the logical and highly desirable increments to the powers of the House that it would bring with it.

It may help if I try briefly to summarise where presently we stand with regard to the House’s sanctioning powers. Following the Bill that was variously known as the Byles Bill and the Steel Bill but was of course the House of Lords Reform (No. 2) Bill, which was passed on 14 May this year, a Member sentenced in the United Kingdom to a term of imprisonment of more than one year—notice that it is more than one year and not, as I think was suggested, at least one year—ceases automatically to be a Member of the House. Provision was also made in that legislation for possible expulsion in the event of a foreign conviction and, again, a sentence exceeding one year’s imprisonment.

However, if a Member is sentenced to one year’s imprisonment or less or is given a suspended sentence of imprisonment, although now, by amendments that were introduced in June this year and can be found in the third and current edition of the Code of Conduct, such a person is deemed to have breached the code and is therefore subject to sanction, he cannot be expelled or suspended beyond the duration of the current Parliament. That is the position equally with regard to all other breaches of the Code of Conduct, however seriously they may be viewed. In other words—this has already been made plain in other speeches in this House—assuming that in misconduct proceedings later this month it were thought right to suspend a Member, the longest period for which that could be done would be to the end of this Parliament, now some four or five months away.

I should complete the present picture and add that in January this year the House introduced two new sanctions for breaches of the code: first, denial of financial support—that is to say, the daily allowance and any expenses—for a specified period which can extend for longer than a suspension, meaning that it can extend into the following Parliament; and, secondly, for a similar extended period, denial of access to the facilities of the House, such as dining, parking, the Library and so forth. Neither of these fresh sanctions has yet been imposed. Of course, they were not retrospective.

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As your Lordships know, this Bill would enable us to provide in Standing Orders for the House to resolve to expel a Member permanently or to suspend a Member beyond the term of the current Parliament. The precise form and scope of such Standing Orders will, of course, require careful thought, and I certainly hope that our sub-committee would be involved in thinking that through.

I suggest that these clearly are powers that the House should have, and that although, like all these possible sanctions, it is greatly to be hoped that there will be very few occasions when they will need to be exercised, they should be available in order to safeguard the reputation of the House. I strongly support the Bill.

2.46 pm

Lord Trefgarne (Con): My Lords, like all noble Lords who have spoken so far, I support the main thrust of the Bill, but there is a small matter that ought to be taken into account, which was accommodated in the Bill passed earlier this year. It is the case of a noble Lord who is, for example, convicted of, say, spying in a distant country when the charge is brought quite speciously and perhaps for political reasons—or perhaps he was indeed spying, but for us. In those circumstances, there needs to be provision to ensure that he is not removed from this House unnecessarily. I hope that that can be accommodated in the Standing Orders that will be drafted when this Bill, as I hope, becomes law. Indeed, there are provisions in the 2014 Act that allow the Lord Speaker, in certain circumstances, to lift the conviction, so to speak. I hope that these matters can be taken into account, if necessary by amendments in Committee—although perhaps that will not be necessary—or when the Standing Orders are drafted.

2.47 pm

Lord Butler of Brockwell (CB): My Lords, I add my voice to those who have supported the Bill. I do so briefly because I know that at this time on a Friday afternoon your Lordships prefer brevity to expansiveness.

This Bill carries forward what the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, acknowledged at the Second Reading of what became the House of Lords Reform Act was unfinished business in that Bill. It gives the House more flexible powers to determine the circumstances in which Peers can be suspended or expelled. I can see no reason why the Government should not support and facilitate this Bill. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us that the Government will indeed support it. If they do not, I think the only reason can be that they are not willing to facilitate any further reform of the House of Lords until more expansive, more ambitious reforms can be introduced. If that is the attitude of the Government, I deplore it. If the Government wish to put a standstill on further measures of incremental reform, they should also put a standstill on making the position of this House worse by more political appointments between now and the general election.

I do not want to personalise this Bill, but the fact that it has been introduced by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, a former Lord Speaker of the House,

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is a particular reason why the Government should give it significance and support it. I cannot resist saying that many of us in this House supported the right of the Leader of the House to be a full member of the Cabinet. In our debates on this matter, she said that even without that status she would support and champion the interests of the House. If there is resistance in the Cabinet to facilitating the Bill, this is an opportunity for her to fulfil that promise to the House, and I hope very much that she will do so.

2.50 pm

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Butler of Brockwell, and entirely endorse what he has said. Much as I respect my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire, who will be responding to this brief debate, I wish that the Leader of the House were here to do so and to give her full authority to what is said from the Front Bench.

I hope that what will be said from the Front Bench is that the Bill will be supported. It meets all the criteria that the Government have laid down. House of Lords reform should come about as a result of consensus. Well, there is a real consensus. This Bill, like that introduced by my noble friend Lord Steel of Aikwood, came about as a result of a group of us who have now been meeting for 12 years, the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber, convened by my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth. We founded it together all those years ago, and I have the honour of chairing it. We have discussed this matter many times, and there has been no disagreement on it among Members from all political parties and the Cross Benches, just as there was no disagreement over the measure that my noble friend Lord Steel introduced and Dan Byles took on last year. It is incremental and modest reform, designed to ensure that this House goes in for proper “housekeeping measures”, as my noble friend Lord Steel called them. It in no way prevents a future Government doing other things with this House. I hope that the House will remain appointed, but whether that is its ultimate destiny or not, there is no argument against the modest proposals made so forcefully and eloquently by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman.

As the noble Lord, Lord Butler, said a few moments ago, the fact that the Bill is being introduced with the enthusiastic support of the first Lord Speaker of this House ought of itself to commend it to all parts of the House. I was delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Taylor of Bolton, spoke as she did. She introduced that debate in June and, again, there was an enormous degree of consensus, even though that report had been drawn up by Labour Peers.

We have only four or five months left of this Parliament. There is not time to get through sweeping measures, but there is ample time to get this measure through. There is no reason at all why it should not go through with acclamation this afternoon, without amendment in Committee, and be in another place well before Christmas. I hope that that will happen. If it does, we will collectively be giving all those who care for our constitution and our Parliament a good Christmas present.

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2.53 pm

Lord Haskel (Lab): My Lords, I, too, support the Bill. As others have said, in the two debates earlier this year—that on the report of the Labour Peers working group, referred to my by noble friend Lady Taylor, and that on the Steel Bill—many people referred to the fact that House of Lords reform would do better to proceed in small steps. The two Bills which tried to deal with the whole of House of Lords reform were both withdrawn because of the absence of consensus.

There are many things on which we can agree, and by taking them one at a time we may be able to achieve reform by accretional amelioration, as only the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, could put it. This Bill is one such step. As the noble Baroness explained, the Bill deals with the expulsion or suspension of Members of this House who have knowingly broken our rules or fallen below the standards that we have set ourselves.

I think that all of us would agree that a strong state demands high standards in public life. Without it, the capacity of Parliament to govern, and our reputation, diminish. Part of upholding those standards is the ability in any circumstances, irrespective of the parliamentary calendar, for this House to remove or suspend Members who have fallen below these standards. I feel that it is more applicable to us than most, because we are an unelected House and privileged, as the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, put it. It would be best if the Bill became law, because if it does not, we will be accused in the press and in the blogosphere of simply looking after our own—and there might be an element of truth in that. Some say that this is really a housekeeping matter. I do not agree. It is serious enough to be put on the statute book.

I finish by thanking the noble Baroness for the Bill. It takes a lot of work to put a Private Member’s Bill through this House; it is time consuming and often frustrating. The workload is also carried by the support staff—my thanks to them. I urge your Lordships to give the Bill a Second Reading.

2.56 pm

Lord Dobbs (Con): My Lords, I support the Bill for many reasons, most of which have already been ably and eloquently put, so I will not repeat them. However, I will spend a minute referring to a wider reason why I support the noble Baroness’s excellent Bill.

There are storms on the horizon; constitutionally we have entered a period of extreme turbulence. Since the referendum in Scotland the cry has gone up that we must have change—new ideas, more forms of government, with more powers. Those who began this paperchase have undoubtedly been considering their arguments carefully over many years before bringing them forward. On the other hand, there seems to be a sudden scarcity of cigarette packets. In these circumstances we need to look ever more carefully at what we do.

It is fair to say that we seek to improve rather than to impede legislation; we advise rather than oppose; we do detail rather than demagoguery; and I hope that we more often look to the wider public interest rather than search for narrow party advantage. Surely those qualities will become increasingly relevant, as all these new constitutional proposals and new powers inevitably

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threaten confusion and unintended consequences. In those circumstances it would be ever more important to find a means of smoothing rough edges. That means that what will be needed more than ever in this devolved new world that awaits us is this House of Lords—or something so like it as to be indistinguishable.

The Bill will help establish our continuing relevance. However, we need more; we need to be fitter, leaner and more transparent, and we need to bring our numbers down quite drastically. That would involve a painful process of self-denial, not only for political leaders, but most of all for ourselves here. One fundamental principle must guide everything we do: every one of us, individually, no matter how long we have perched here, whatever our plumage or pedigree, is here to serve this House. This House does not exist for our benefit, but we for it. The Bill helps to reinforce that fundamental principle. I wholeheartedly support it and congratulate the noble Baroness on her work in bringing it forward.

2.59 pm

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): My Lords, I support the Bill and will try to be very brief, because it is a very brief Bill and my support for it is very strong—not least because it is very brief. We all owed the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, thanks for her services to this House before the Bill; we now owe a bit more to her in the light of it.

It is a manifest absurdity that the maximum penalty that can be imposed on somebody who breaks the rules of this place varies in inverse proportion to the length of the Parliament. It is absurd—the scale of the penalty should reflect the scale of the offence, not the remaining period of the Parliament. It is Alice in Wonderland.

I completely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. His speech was important, because I feared before this debate that we would hear that this was not the only reform that needed to be undertaken and that we would get into the trap of letting the best become the enemy of the good. I, too, believe that we need to have more reforms of this place, but that should not be an excuse for delaying this self-evident correction of a self-evident absurdity.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, for warning against letting the best become the enemy of the good. I hope that what has been expressed from the Liberal Democrat Benches will also be expressed from the Government Front Bench. The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, is absolutely right to say that there is no reason at all why this very sensible, long-overdue, necessary little reform should not be on the statute book before the end of this Parliament.

I am also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, who raised a point that I believe he has raised before, but in terms that indicated that he realised that it did not require an amendment to this enabling Bill and could be dealt with perfectly well in the Standing Orders that would follow.

I am going to deliver on my promise of brevity. I hope that the discussions in this House will be equally brief and that we will bring this Bill to a successful conclusion before the end of this Parliament.

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3.01 pm

Lord Norton of Louth (Con): My Lords, I, too, add my support to the Bill. On the last occasion on which I was the last Back-Bench speaker in a Second Reading debate, I used the opportunity to respond to opponents of the Bill. My role today is clearly different in that I am here to add my support to everyone who has spoken.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, made clear, the provisions of this Bill are based on previous measures. In the last Parliament, I served on the Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill, which became the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The provisions for expulsion were lost in the wash-up. In this Parliament, I served on the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill. The Labour Government supported the former Bill and the present coalition Government supported the latter Bill—in other words, all three main parties have signed up to the provisions embodied in this Bill. The drafting of this Bill follows that of the previous Bills, especially the House of Lords Reform Bill, so no party with any merit can claim that the Bill deviates from the provisions that they have previously supported.

As the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, said, the Bill extends our current limited powers and brings us into line with the other place. There is clearly a powerful case for bringing us into line with the House of Commons. The two Houses do not necessarily have to march in step but, if there is a difference, there is a more powerful case for this House to have the power of expulsion. After all, MPs do not enjoy security of tenure; they can be removed by their constituents. They may be removed in between elections in exceptional circumstances, if the Recall of MPs Bill before the House of Commons is enacted.

As my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury said, membership of this House is a privilege, but it is also a responsibility. We have to maintain high standards. We have the code of conduct; that is necessary but it is not sufficient. We lack the powers necessary to enforce it in the event of a major transgression. We can suspend Members, but only for limited periods, as we have heard. That is useful and we have made use of it, but we need the ability in exceptional circumstances to suspend for a greater period than is presently possible or even to expel. It is not difficult to envisage circumstances in which a Member brings the House into serious disrepute without breaking the law.

The provisions of this Bill give us the powers that we need. It is up to the House to provide due process for the consideration of cases. The report of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, echoing previous committee recommendations, detailed the minimum requirements for fairness in such cases. These should be embodied in Standing Orders and not in the detail of the Bill—otherwise there is the danger of the provisions coming within the purview of the courts. The Bill in my view gets the balance right. It is a modest Bill, at least in length, but it is a necessary one for the reasons that noble Lords have advanced. Like my noble friend Lord Cormack, I see no reason at all why it should not be permitted to proceed to the statute book and do so swiftly.

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3.04 pm

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, in introducing her Bill, my noble friend Lady Hayman was most persuasive and we on the opposition Benches are very happy to support it and to wish it godspeed through this House and the other place. The Bill’s provisions are very much reinforced by the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown, who gave a very helpful explanation of the sanctions currently available and what is missing from the way in which we deal with these matters. My noble friend Lady Hayman was right to say that expulsion from a Chamber of Parliament is, indeed, a significant and major step. I agree with her that, although we hope they may never have to be used, it is good to have an armoury and the ability to do so if the circumstances should arise.

Of course the expulsion of a Member of Parliament can never be undertaken lightly, so it is important that proper safeguards are in place. My noble friend has reassured me on this point. As she said, the House remains in control. It would have to approve the Standing Orders and have to agree to the expulsion of the Member—the two locks, as she described them. I believe that those are sufficient safeguards. I was much reassured on that by the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern. This Bill could become law with government support and we look to the Minister for a positive response.

My noble friend Lady Taylor referred to other matters that could be agreed by your Lordships’ House.

Lord Jopling (Con): I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord but he has just indicated that, if the Bill is to go through, it is essential that it be given government time. I think it is the first time that that point has been made in the debate.

My colleagues with experience of the House of Commons will recall that it is extremely difficult to get a Private Member’s Bill through the Commons procedures. As one who has killed off more Private Members’ Bills than most noble Lords who sit in this Chamber, I know that what we need to hear from the Minister is how we can get the Bill through before the general election, if that is what we want. We seem to be totally unanimous on that. The Government support the Bill and we hope that it goes through. However, that is the language of the long grass. The only way that this Bill will go through is if the Minister tells us not only that the Government support it but, more importantly, that government time will be given in another place to get it through.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, that was an extremely helpful intervention, at least for Members of your Lordships’ House. I suspect that there has never been a more elegant assassin of Private Members’ Bills than the noble Lord. He certainly speaks from great experience, and I hope that we will receive a positive response. It is absolutely clear that we need the Government to fully support the Bill and make sure that there is time in the other place for it to go through. I also hope that the noble Lord will take note of my noble friend’s comments. The report that she produced, which was debated in your Lordships’ House, contained a number of very useful suggestions for modest improvements.

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I agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, said about retirements and the number of Members of this House. We have to start to make progress in relation to that. I very much support the Bill. I hope that the Minister will respond positively. It will be disappointing if the Government do not say that they will support the Bill.

3.09 pm

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, the Government do, of course, remain committed to a broader scheme of Lords reform, as I trust do the Labour Opposition in their turn. There is a consensus on that, at least officially. The Government have no settled view on the Bill at present. All I can promise, and I do promise, is that I will take back the speeches that have been given around the House and the strong arguments that these are essentially housekeeping measures—although I am not sure that expulsion is entirely a matter of housekeeping. Powerful speeches have been made, and then we will have to see what can be done with the House of Commons between now and the election. Time is very short—

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The noble Lord says that the Government have no settled view. That is disappointing but it could be taken as a positive response if it actually meant that the Government generally would be prepared to discuss, maybe through the usual channels, with the noble Baroness whether they are prepared to support the Bill. Can he say that the door is at least open to that?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I am trying to be as positive as I can be but the noble Lord knows as well as I do, having been in government, that getting consensus inside the Government, even in a single party, is not always entirely simple and straightforward. You have to get Ministers to concentrate on the matter in hand. When it is a matter of Lords housekeeping it is not entirely easy. I will do my best. I will take this back very firmly and we will have to look at the House of Commons dimension, and we might be able to make at least very considerable progress on the Bill. I take everything that has been said, although I repeat that the Government remain committed to a broader scheme of reform.

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: I am listening with great care to what the noble Lord is saying and we all know the pressure that we are under towards the end of this Parliament. Will he bear in mind the fact that in the wash-up at the end of the Parliament it is very often easy to get agreement on measures that are as clear-cut as this one?

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I also take that point and will take it back. We had rather hoped that with a fixed-term Parliament there would be much less wash-up than before, but I suspect that when it comes we will discover that a number of things have been slid in at the last minute that we nevertheless have not quite managed to agree in either House.

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Lord Cormack: If it is less of a wash-up, there is only a very tiny dish.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I entirely understood. Unfortunately, some rather larger dishes may yet be introduced, which the Government may wish to try to push through.

We all hope that these powers would not be needed. We all recognise that we will need to look before the Bill is completed at the sort of things that will need to be in Standing Orders, because this Bill is quite a substantial extension to the power of the House, in spite of the wonderful phrase that the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, used—that it is intended to be merely an “amelioration”. However, I am very happy to talk further with the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, and certainly take this back to the Cabinet Office to see what is possible.

Before we depart, I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, that I look forward to her next proposals on accretion or amelioration. I am happy that I hear around the Corridors a number of noble Lords on all Benches discussing the possibility of retirement at the end of this Parliament. That is another useful way forward. We should encourage it. However, perhaps the noble Baroness will, at the beginning of the next Parliament, produce a Bill that will suggest a retirement age by consensus. I look forward to giving her my support, from wherever I am at that point, on that next stage in amelioration.

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard: My Lords, the noble Lord’s tone is encouraging but slightly light-hearted. I regard this as a very important Bill. It may be short but if it is carried by acclamation in this House, as it should be, it will be very odd if the Government do not find government time for it in the other place.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we appreciate that this is a serious matter. We all understand the question of the House’s reputation and of the public reputation of Westminster as a whole. I have previously said in responding to questions that that is one of the strongest lessons of the Scottish referendum and of the disillusionment of opinion across England with Westminster as such. We all understand that. I will take that away. I happen to be a strong believer in a reduction in numbers by accepting that we should all retire at a certain age. That is part of where we are now moving and it is part of our general responsibilities. I strongly believe that to be a Member of this House is a privilege, not a right.

I hope I have said enough to reassure the House. Conversations will continue off the Floor, as they so often do. We will see what we can do.

3.15 pm

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am enormously grateful for the support that I have received from all Benches of your Lordships’ House and for the seriousness with which Members have addressed the Bill. I was slightly worried on several grounds when the Minister wound up: at one stage I thought that he was inviting

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me to retire by the end of the Parliament. I do not think I am minded to do that with so much unfinished business before us, not least in this area.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I must congratulate the noble Baroness. She talked about completing a stage of House of Lords reform. What a wonderful phrase—the thought that we might ever complete a substantial phase of House of Lords reform. I suspect I will retire before we have done that.

Baroness Hayman: It is the never-ending story of British politics. However, I turn briefly to two points made by noble Lords. One was made by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne. I quite understand his desire that we should not create rules so inflexible that injustices take place. That is less of a difficulty with a Bill that enables the House to make Standing Orders, which can themselves give the degree of flexibility referred to by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern. We then have the next lock of the House itself needing to make a resolution in individual cases. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, will not feel that it is necessary to try to amend the Bill, but that he will be engaged in the process that several noble Lords have mentioned of drawing up the Standing Orders, the procedures and the processes that would be necessary after enactment, which we all recognise should be taken very seriously.

Several noble Lords referred to the need for other measures of reform. It is well known that I share a desire to reform this House substantially. That does not mean I support an elected House—I do not—but I believe that there is a lot that we can do. I considered bringing the remains of the Steel Bill: an individual Bill on a statutory appointments commission, a cap on the size of the House, and even—dare I say it with the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, present—an end to hereditary Peer by-elections. I did not do any of those things because I believed that I should, in these

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circumstances, bring forward something that was deliverable and that could, in the terms of a Private Member’s Bill, become law and make a contribution.

The Minister said that it might be difficult to get people to focus on Lords housekeeping. I, too, take issue with that designation of the Bill. He might find it easier if he put it to colleagues that it was a Bill dealing with the reputation of Parliament, because that is what I believe it is and I think that the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, and others made that perfectly clear.

I am slightly surprised that the Government have “no settled view”, to use the Minister’s phrase. They had a settled view when they drew up these proposals and put them in the Bill in 2012. Of course, I am willing to consider and discuss what might be in the Standing Orders but I assume that that work has already been done in government: if it is necessary then it would have been done as the back-up to these proposals when they were put forward in the 2012 Bill.

The advice that the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, gave us was absolutely central. Although the Minister seemed to be willing the ends in a very generalised way, willing the means was not so specific. I shall certainly take up his offer of conversations—he did not say that the door was closed. I hope—and today’s debate has given me encouragement for this because I do not think that anyone expressed any doubt about the importance and necessity of the Bill—that we can deliver it up in good time for it to become law if the Government give it time in another place. That is the simple demand that, with the authority of those who have spoken today, I shall be taking into those discussions. I hope that, in a short period of time, the Government will reach the conclusion that it is in all our interests so to do.

Bill read a second time and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at 3.21 pm.