As one of the 91 Conservative backbenchers who voted against the House of Lords Reform Bill, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP for The Cotswolds, has welcomed the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, that the Government is to abandon its plans to reform the House of Lords.
The House of Lords Reform Bill would have seen the introduction of plans which would have seen 80% of peers elected, each for one fifteen year term, and see the total number of members halved to 450. However, although the Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons a Government Programme Motion, which would have limited the amount of time Parliament would spend debating and scrutinising the Bill, was withdrawn in face of considerable opposition in the House of Commons.
Commenting on this announcement Mr Clifton-Brown said: “I think the Government have taken the right decision not to proceed with these proposed reforms.”
“The introduction of an elected House of Lords would have been a direct challenge to the supremacy of the House of Commons, it would have removed from the Lords many of the experts who currently sit there and provide valuable knowledge and experience of a wide range of issues and would have little to no interest in standing for election, and the debate on this matter would have taken a considerable amount of time when our focus should be on other matters such as the economy and helping small businesses.”
“A new Bill along the lines of the Steel Bill would have been acceptable to the majority of MPs. These reforms would have included halving the size of the Lords, which has over 900 members at present, introducing a compulsory retirement age, banning convicted criminals from sitting in the Lords and setting up an Independent Appointments Commission to take the power of patronage away from the Government.”
“Such a Bill should be introduced into the House of Lords first as it is their future we are discussing. If the Lords pass it the Bill will have a quick passage through the Commons, which will avoid any more unnecessary time being spent on this matter.
“It is regrettable that a compromise along the lines of these reforms was not reached and it is even more regrettable that our Liberal Democrat coalition partners now appear to be opposing the changes to constituency boundaries, which would have created constituencies with more equal number of voters and more fair election results. The issue of House of Lords reform was clearly linked to the AV referendum, which took place last year, and not the boundaries review and I hope the Liberal Democrats will reconsider their views on this issue.”
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP Member of Parliament for The Cotswolds
Source: Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP