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National Security Strategy Committee

Volume 830: debated on Monday 12 June 2023

Membership Motion

Moved by

My Lords, I did not know what I was letting the House in for. It is right that we should have the opportunity to discuss each appointment. There are too many appointments and other decisions that go through this House on the nod, and we find out afterwards what we have agreed to without realising the full implications. I do not even mind that the point raised on the previous Motion was something I totally disagree with.

I suggest that we delay the appointment of the member of the National Security Strategy Committee, with absolutely no disrespect whatever to the noble Lord, Lord Sarfraz. We will have an influx of new talent into this House—all of whom, sadly, appallingly and disgracefully, will be Conservative Members, with no new opposition Peers at all. This list, put forward by Mr Boris Johnson, who bullied the Prime Minister into accepting it, is very interesting in many ways. Before we continue with this particular appointment, we should give the whole multitude of talent coming in the opportunity of advising this House on national security strategy.

That is an interesting analysis, on which it would be inappropriate for me to comment as the Senior Deputy Speaker. However, the spirit of what I am putting forward is that the noble Lord, Lord Sarfraz, would be a very suitable Member to take over the position of the noble Lord, Lord Ashton of Hyde.

This is an interesting opportunity for the noble Lord to raise the points that he did. We have always said that appointments en bloc are with the leave of the House although, interestingly, under the Companion’s rules the Senior Deputy Speaker can bring forward Motions en bloc, and therefore I do so conscious that it is permitted by the Companion. Of course, we must enable the House, if it wishes, to object to something being undertaken en bloc, but the four Motions that I have brought before your Lordships today are benign and thoughtful. We will have very good additions to help us do our important work.

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Foulkes raised another issue on this Motion, which is the growing and alarming disproportion between the number of Peers on the Government Benches and those who are members of the Official Opposition. This has been raised on many occasions in the past, but now—I am sure my maths is correct—the number of Conservative Peers outweighs the number of Liberal Democrat and Labour Peers combined. It was never envisaged that the Government should have a political majority in the House of Lords, and it had never happened until very recently, under this Government. That is something. The Senior Deputy Speaker is well known for being fair and impartial and, in a fair and impartial role, I hope that he will feel it appropriate at some stage to mention to the people who are in a position to do something about it that this disproportion is now absurd.

It raises an even more significant point—this is not a threat but an observation—that, should my beloved party reach the objective to which it is devoted at the moment and in 18 months we swap sides, for the Labour Party to get anything like the numerical advantage that the Conservative Party has as the party of government at the moment would involve the appointment of around 100 new Labour Peers. Some might say that is not enough, but I am a moderate man. If the Government ignore this and the governing party lose the election, which I fervently hope it will, it will have to face that and raise no objections whatever if the situation arises in which a large number of Labour Peers are appointed.

My Lords, all I shall say, in good fellowship, is that this goes beyond the Motion before the House today, but the House will have heard what the noble Lord said. I beg to move.

Motion agreed.