The House of Lords Reform Bill received further line by line examination during report stage on Friday 10 February.
The debate started with amendments about permanent leave of absence from House of Lords duties. Viscount Astor (Conservative) presented a group of amendments (234 and 241) adjusting the absence period from three to six months, which were then agreed.
The discussion moved on to expenses, with Amendment 292 moved by Lord True (Conservative), which inserts a new clause about the 'refusal or failure to repay wrongly claimed expenses'.
The amendment states that: 'A member found by the House of Lords, or a Committee of the House of Lords, to have wrongfully claimed expenses and who has been suspended by the House in connection with a fraudulent claim for expenses, and who refuses or fails to repay money, or make provision for the repayment of money, whose repayment has been required by the House of Lords within a year, shall cease to be a member of the House of Lords.' He withdrew the amendment and hopes to discuss the issue further.
House of Lords Reform: Key areas
- All recommendations for life peerages would be made by a Statutory Appointments Commission.
- Proposals for new peers could be made to the Commission.
- All nominees would have to demonstrate conspicuous merit and a willingness and capacity to make a contribution to the work of the House of Lords.
- In determining how many new peers (if any) to recommend each year, the Commission would take the following principles into account:
- Not less than 20 per cent of the members of the House of Lords should be independent of any political party.
- No one party, nor a coalition of parties forming a government, should have a majority of members in the House of Lords.
- The government of the day (or the largest party in a coalition government) should be entitled to have a larger number of members than the official Opposition, but that majority should normally be no greater than 3 per cent of the total membership of the House of Lords.
- The House of Lords should not have more members than the House of Commons.
- Existing hereditary peers would no longer be replaced when they die.
- Members could apply to take permanent leave of absence, which would be the equivalent of retiring from the House of Lords.
- Members who did not attend the House of Lords during a parliamentary session would be deemed to have taken permanent leave of absence.
- Any member found guilty of a serious criminal offence and sentenced to more than a year in prison would cease to be a member of the House of Lords.
Catch up on the House of Lords Reform Bill
The private members' bill was brought to the House of Lords by Lord Steel of Aikwood.
Members of the Lords who are not government ministers can introduce private members’ bills. Like public bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. Most private members’ bills do not become law (Acts of Parliament). However, by creating publicity around an issue, some private members’ bills can indirectly affect legislation.
Report stage involves detailed line by line examination to all amendments (proposals for change) in a bill. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).
Find out more about watching House of Lords debates in Parliament.
Image: Parliament copyright