The Steel Bill – the Private Member’s Bill introduced by Lord Steel – to achieve various changes to the House of Lords (for instance, getting rid of the hereditary peers’ by-election, allowing for the House to expel peers, removing members who don’t attend) cleared its committee stage on Friday. This constituted excellent, indeed somewhat unexpected, progress. Although the Bill enjoys widespread support, a small number of peers oppose it. However, the strength of support was demonstrated in two votes. The first was on an important procedural motion, which was carried by 175 votes to 16. The second was on the clause to close off the by-election option for hereditary peers. This was carried by 142 votes to 18. (I acted as a teller in both divisions.) Achieving such a turnout in a division on a Friday is remarkable. The Bill now goes forward to its Report stage.
I noticed one interesting family split in the second vote. Lord Bannside voted for the clause and Baroness Paisley of St George’s voted against. In other words, Ian Paisley voted in one lobby and his wife in the other.