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Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 1 December 2009

Question

Asked By

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what role they intend that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority should play in relation to the House of Lords.

My Lords, as I stated on 20 July during the passage of the Parliamentary Standards Bill, the remit of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority does not extend to this House, and the Government accept that it should not be extended to your Lordships’ House as it is presently constituted.

My Lords, I am grateful, but does the noble Baroness accept that on these Benches we expressed some doubt as to whether it was right flatly to deny that some of these issues need independent and authoritative assessment from outside the House? Is she dismissing recommendation 26 of last week’s report by the Senior Salaries Review Body without a debate in your Lordships’ House? Or does she anticipate a change in the composition of the House before the next review?

My Lords, I have absolutely no doubt about the flat denial that I made during the passage of the Bill. I acknowledge that the SSRB has provided its advice in recommendation 26, but, as I stated earlier, it is this Government’s clear intention that IPSA should not be extended to your Lordships’ House as presently constituted.

My Lords, on these Benches we agree with the noble Baroness. This House and another place are very different. Does the noble Baroness agree—as I think she will—that it would, therefore, be inappropriate to impose the same regulatory system on both Houses, as is faintly proposed in recommendation 26?

Yes, my Lords, I agree that at present the two Houses are constituted differently and are very different Chambers. Therefore, it would not be appropriate for both Houses to be under the same authority. If this House were constituted differently, that would be a different issue.

My Lords, the Minister will recall that Members’ expenses for the House of Lords in 2007-08 totalled £18.4 million. Mr Jack Straw has announced that IPSA’s budget, simply for running the authority for the coming year, is £8.5 million. Does she expect that any savings from the SSRB proposals for the House of Lords will be more than £8.5 million?

My Lords, I am glad that the noble Lord has given me an opportunity to say what excellent value this House provides for Parliament and for the people of this country. I do not expect that the SSRB will have provided many savings to the Exchequer.