Government responds positively to report on Lords reform
17 February 2014
The Government has published its response to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s report on House of Lords reform.
The original report proposed a series of incremental changes that the Committee considered could achieve a political consensus and pave the way for greater reforms. The Government has responded positively to these proposals.
Graham Allen, Chair of the Committee, states:
“I am pleased that the Government has supported many of the recommendations for incremental change suggested by the Committee. As the Government points out, some of these changes are included in the Private Member’s Bill on Lords Reform being sponsored by Dan Byles MP.
I hope that the Bill will swiftly complete its remaining stages in the Commons and the Lords and become law before the end of this session. The Bill is a real opportunity to make small, but significant progress on reforming the House of Lords.”
- The response states: “The Government remains committed to the pursuit of wide scale, comprehensive reform of the House of Lords and it is in this context that any further incremental change must be viewed. In the absence of wider reform, however, the Government is keen to support straightforward and common sense changes.”
- The response continues: “The Government...supports those recommendations that are in line with the provisions contained within the House of Lords Reform (No 2) Bill.” This is the Bill sponsored by Dan Byles MP, which would introduce a retirement scheme for Members of the House of Lords, and provides that Members of the Lords who have not attended during a Session cease to be Members, and that a Member of the Lords who is convicted of a serious offence ceases to be a Member.
- The Government agreed with the Committee that “those who are convicted of a serious criminal offence should lose their right to sit in the House of Lords.”
- The Committee’s report recommended that “hereditary peers should not be replaced in the House of Lords when they die”. The response states: “Whilst the Government remains committed to removing hereditary peers from the House through the introduction of a mainly elected chamber, this represents significant constitutional change that should be achieved only as part of a more comprehensive package of reforms.”
- The Government agreed with the Committee “that persistent non-attendance should be addressed.”
- The Government did not support the Committee’s suggestion that there should be “a non-statutory scheme under which nominees [for the House of Lords] would be invited to give an assurance that they would retire after a certain number of years.” Instead, it supported putting the existing voluntary retirement scheme on a statutory basis.
- The Government agreed with the Committee that there should be no fixed retirement age for peers.
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