Stop-gap Lords reform needed now, says Committee

10 May 2011

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee warns that incremental changes which would improve the functioning of the second chamber cannot wait for radical reform of the House of Lords.

Short-term incremental reform

The report, which follows a seminar attended by Members of the House of Lords and other experts, concludes that 'the current, effectively untrammelled, process for making party-political appointments to the House of Lords, coupled with the lack of any mechanism for Members to leave the upper House, threatens that House's effective functioning in the shorter term' and finds that 'this is a pressing issue that cannot wait four years to be resolved'.

It also identifies substantial support for a mechanism which would allow Peers to resign.

Government's reform programme

The committee makes clear that 'the report is not and should not be portrayed as an attempt to hold up the Government's programme', and that the Government could 'take on board the points made in this report without endangering either the principle or the process of their reforms'.

The Government 'needs to ensure that the country is not left with a bloated, dysfunctional upper House if radical reform were to stall'.

Effective scrutiny

The Committee also makes recommendations designed to ensure effective scrutiny of the Government’s proposals for reform of the House of Lords, proposals which are expected within a matter of weeks.

The Chair of the Committee, Graham Allen MP, said:

"These are the views of experts from all parties and none. Whether or not we get radical Lords reform, there are changes here that need to be made now, if Parliament is to function effectively over the next few years."

Further information

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