This week, we had a two-day debate in the Lords on the Government’s White Paper on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill. I was in the chamber for most of the debate, hence the light blogging this week. Perhaps I should follow the example of my colleague, Lord Lucas. Sat next to him in the House last night as he was using his iPad, I asked what we was doing: tweeting about the debate, he replied.
I opened the debate on the second day. As I am nominated to serve on the joint committee on the Bill, I did not focus on the detail of the Bill, but addressed instead the wider context of the measure. I raised questions in relation to demand, purpose and consequences. When the minister, Lord McNally, came to respond to just over 100 speeches made in the debate, he spoke for thirty minutes and failed to answer any of the questions put to him. In the course of not answering, he managed to insult various members. I think it fair to say that he did not impress the House and certainly did not persuade it of the Government’s case.
The vast majority of the speeches were hostile to the Bill. Indeed, it was basically friendless. Even members who might have been expected to support it criticised it as failing to deliver on what they wanted. I think Lord McNally got the message and gave in without attempting even to put up a serious case. His line was that all the issues raised were matters for the joint committee. We are clearly in for a very busy time.