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House of Lords

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 27 June 2018

4. When the Government plan to respond to the report of the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the size of the House of Lords. (906088)

The Prime Minister responded to the Lord Speaker’s Committee on 20 February. In her response, she committed to do her bit to address the size of the House of Lords by continuing the restrained approach she has so far shown to appointments.

Thanks to the Minister’s actions during the debate here on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the couple of minutes that Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town had on devolution was more time than all the devolved MPs got collectively. Does the Minister think it acceptable that unelected Members of the House of Lords had more opportunity to debate the Government’s redrawing of the devolution settlement than any elected Member from Scotland?

As you will know, Mr Speaker, because you spent many hours in the Chair, we spent several hundred hours debating the Bill. I am proud that it has attained Royal Assent. I think we can all agree that that will provide greater certainty to businesses and citizens as we exit the EU. It is a shame that the Scottish National party seems not to be interested in that.

Does the Minister agree that the House of Lords would be vastly improved if it was smaller and democratic?

I echo what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said about the role we see for the House of Lords: it should continue as a scrutinising Chamber but respect the primacy of the Commons, which certainly is the democratically elected Chamber.

Does the Minister really think that next week’s by-election, with 31 electors who are the children and grandchildren of people who got there illegitimately, is, in a modern democracy, the right way to elect Members of Parliament in another place?

The right hon. Gentleman is an experienced Labour Member of Parliament, so he might recall that Labour had a hand in the legislation that guides this process. He will also recall that the Conservative party won the general election on a manifesto that said it would not prioritise reform of the House of Lords.

It is all very well the hon. Gentleman breezily declaring, “Never mind about the House of Lords.” The question, inconveniently for him, is focused on the House of Lords. Generosity gets the better of me, however, and I am itching to hear the ministerial reply.

Mr Speaker, I think the simplest answer is that the Boundary Commission will return with its proposals shortly and the House will have the pleasure of looking at them.