Draft Lords Reform Bill this year

The new Coalition Government has announced membership of a committee to draft a Bill to reform the House of Lords.  It will publish its work this year, in preparation full parliamentary and public scrutiny in 2011.

Liberal Democrat Justice Minister, Lord McNally told the Lords, that a small group from both Houses and all three main parties, would be tasked complete this next stage before Christmas. He said, “it is a working group to draft legislation. It will not just go around in ever-decreasing circles, which has been the experience of the past 10 years.”

Welcoming this renewed sense of urgency, Constitutional Affairs Spokesman Lord Tyler pointed out that the previous Labour Government had broken successive promise to bring forward draft legislation.

He said, “does my noble friend recall that after the White Paper of 2008, the previous Government promised to bring forward for pre-legislative scrutiny precisely the Bill to which he is now referring, but never did so? In order to meet the concerns expressed on all sides of the House, I suggest that the sooner we get a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny before a Joint Committee, as set out by my noble friend, the better. To accelerate that process, I would draw my noble friend’s attention-modestly-to the fact that the Second Chamber of Parliament Bill was introduced in the other House five years ago by Mr Kenneth Clarke, Mr Robin Cook, Mr Tony Wright, Sir George Young and myself.”

Lord McNally acknowledged that the “building blocks” for the draft Bill were already available and expressed confidence that real progress would now be made.

After the exchanges, Lord Tyler expressed the hope that “the pre-legislative scrutiny process should, at last, take the issue of Lords reform out of the Westminster bubble.  This opportunity for the public to become effectively engaged in reforming the second chamber will stop it being the plaything of politicians, notably those who are resisting change purely for personal or partisan advantage.”


Note: The full exchange is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/100608-0001.htm#10060837000646

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