STEEL BILL A STEPPING STONE TO REAL REFORM

Proposals to make minor changes to the composition and rules of the House of Lords were a step in the right direction but not the complete reform package promised in successive election manifestos, Liberal Democrat spokesman Lord Tyler said today (Friday).

Speaking in the House of Lords on former Liberal Leader, David Steel’s Bill, Lord Tyler said “The Bill is not a desert island on which we should now sit in a state of complacency”. He challenged the Conservative Party to clarify its position, after Conservative Peers had expressed support for everything from the hereditary principle to an elected Senate. At the end of the debate, the Conservative Leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, failed to indicate either support for Lord Steel’s Bill or for urgent action to secure more comprehensive reform.

Responding to the debate, the Minister, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath agreed with the Liberal Democrats, saying, “This Government and the House of Commons consider that it is unacceptable for a House of Parliament not to be wholly or mostly elected.”

Commenting after the exchanges, Lord Tyler said:

“We don’t see how the Government can go on sitting on its hands.

“As the Lib Dem Leader in the Lords, Tom McNally, pointed out, there is plenty of time in this session of Parliament to introduce a Bill to bring about a fully-elected Senate.

“We have to address the crisis of public confidence in Parliament as a whole, and the Lords in particular. Some Ministers and some Peers may think that there’s no need to make rapid progress with reform, but – as I told them – I think they are living in a fools’ paradise.

ENDS

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