The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee in the House of Commons is undertaking an inquiry into ‘The House of Lords: what next?’ essentially exploring what, if anything, can be done in the present Parliament to enable the House to carry out its tasks more effectively.
Last Thursday, I gave evidence to the committee, along with Lords Hennessy, Goodlad and Tyler. You can watch the proceedings here. It was a useful session for fleshing out the changes which we would like to see in legislation. Various changes in procedures are within the gift of the House itself, but various changes we wish to achieve require primary legislation. These encompass primarily the provisions of the Steel Bill (now the Hayman Bill, Baroness Hayman having taken over as the Bill’s sponsor in this session): putting the appointments commission on a statutory basis, closing off the hereditary peers by-election, and removing members who never attend or who commit serious criminal offences. As I stressed on removing those who commit criminal offences, it is a case of bringing us into line with the provisions in the Commons.
We got a receptive hearing from Members. Even Labour MP Paul Flynn admitted he was in danger of becoming a fan of the Lords. I sense a mood that now favours making some changes, with Government opposition to any legislation receding.