1. In December 2002 we said in our First Report
that although the re-balancing of parliamentary institutions is
something that can only evolve over time, we believed that there
was an historic opportunity to enact reform of the House of Lords
based on the need for a second Chamber which would continue to
play an important and complementary role to the Commons.
However, for the present at least, the scale and nature of that
opportunity has now changed.
2. For not only has there been predictable disagreement
between the two Houses. There has also been the lack of decision
on the matter of composition in the House of Commons - and indeed,
at a late stage, the absence of a clear lead from the Government
itself. The effect of these decisions (or lack of them) has been
to reduce the pressure for change in any direction. Even if the
engines have not actually fallen off the train, their thrust has
3. Even so, this Committee remains unanimous
in its view that simply to maintain the status quo is undesirable.
The differences between us as to the long-term future structure
of the second Chamber inevitably reflect those in Parliament and
Government alike. Some of us may have been tempted to believe
that the best way to promote the case for radical change is to
leave things as they are - and thus exposed to continuing criticism.
Others could have been tempted, in the opposite direction, to
regard "no change" as an acceptable prescription for
an enduring quiet life. Collectively, however, we do not accept
either of these views.
4. Whatever may or may not be decided later -
perhaps some considerable time ahead, perhaps not - about the
long-term composition of the second Chamber, there are possible
changes affecting the effectiveness, representative quality and
credibility of the House that can and should be considered and
decided now. Things should not simply be left as they are. So
in this Report we emphasise the importance of reasserting the
case for reform and for regaining at least some part of the momentum,
which was recognised by the Commons Public Administration Select
Committee in its Report.
And we seek from Government, and subsequently from Parliament,
a clear response to this Report.