My debate on the case for reducing the size of the House of Lords took place yesterday. Anyone wishing to watch it can see it here. I argued that, in terms of membership, the House had grown, was growing, and needed to be reduced. The size of the House, both in terms of total and active membership, generates problems in terms of how we are seen by the public and our capacity to fulfil our core functions.
There were some very good speeches during the debate, not least that of the former Lord Speaker, Baroness Hayman. One or two peers could not see what the problem was. The main response to the argument that the House was overcrowded was ‘what’s the problem? Look, the chamber’s not full.’ That was about it. When I travel on the tube in the afternoon and the carriages are not full, I do not conclude that there isn’t a problem of congestion on the underground. For those opposed to any change, I ended with a quote from Burke: ‘a state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation’.