My Question for Short Debate (QSD) – asking what plans the Government had to put the House of Lords Appointments Commission on a statutory basis – was taken as dinner break business last Monday. As it was my QSD, I had a guaranteed ten minutes, but the number of speakers was such that everyone else, bar the minister, had two minutes each. There was clear support for putting the commission on a statutory basis. A few disagreed, albeit making speeches that in my view did not add greatly to the debate and in at least one case completely disregarding what had already been said. The minister, Lord True, spoke against as well, but in a speech that seemed more concerned with tackling other players than the ball. As someone observed afterwards, his speech rather bore out what I had said in opening – that the minister would have ten minutes to say what he could say in ten seconds, namely that the Government have no plans to put the commission on a statutory basis. He may have been better served by simply doing that.
You can read the debate here. The campaign to achieve a statutory appointments commission continues. As I argued in the debate, it is crucial to enhancing the legitimacy of the House and it may be prudent for the Government to accept the case now rather than wait until overtaken by more radical demands for change. Experience has shown the value of piecemeal reform.