Monday, 6 August 2012

House of Lords Reform Bill abandoned

"Politics is the art of the possible"

The House of Lords Reform Bill has been abandoned for this Parliament - see the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. 

Lords reform has been considered in several posts on this blog.  It was the Parliament Act 1911 which declared the intention to move to an elected Chamber but major reform of the type proposed in the Reform Bill has proved to be extremely elusive.

Previous posts: 17th May 2010 - 17th May 2011 - 20th May 2011 - 30th June 2012 - 11th July 2012

The various attempts at reform are set out in the 20th May 2011 post - "Plantagenet Palliser - after 100 years, will Lords reform arrive."

It may be that, as in the past, more limited reforms will find support.  Currently in the list of active Bills is Lord Steel of Aikwood's House of Lords (Cessation of Membership) Bill which will provide that
Peers will cease to be Members of the House of Lords by way of retirement or in the event of non-attendance or criminal conviction.   The third reading in the Lords of this Bill took place on 24th July 2012 and the Bill now moves to the Commons for consideration.  The Lords third reading debate was short so I quote it here in full:

Third Reading

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, as is usual in these matters, I shall now read the following. 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 (Cessation of Membership) 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.
Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third-and, I dearly hope, final-time.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, very briefly, on behalf of the whole House, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Steel, for his perseverance in taking this Bill through. We shall have to see what happens in the  other place. Does the noble Lord think that his Bill just might be part of the answer to the Government's problem on Lords reform?
Lord Steel of Aikwood: It is above my pay grade to answer that. I hope that it might be but we shall wait and see. In the mean time, like the noble Lord, Lord Sutherland, on the previous occasion when we debated this, I quote Aristotle:
"Politics is the art of the possible".
This item is possible. Let us get on with it and pass it to the House of Commons.
Bill passed and sent to the Commons.

I am not so sure it was Aristotle who said that but there it is !

See also - Brian Barder blog - "Premature Lords 'reform' and the Commons gerrymander both torpedoed: a good day for democracy."

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