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Lord Speaker appoints new committee to deliver a smaller House of Lords

Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, today announced the setting up of a new Lord Speaker's committee to examine methods to reduce the size of the House of Lords.

The appointment of the committee, to be chaired by independent Crossbench Peer Lord Burns, follows a debate on the 5 December when the House agreed that "its size should be reduced and methods should be explored by which this could be achieved."

The committee will start its work in the New Year.

The Members of the new committee are:

Commenting on the appointment of the committee Lord Burns, said:

"In the recent House of Lords debate on the size of the House there was a very broad consensus that the House is too large and should be reduced in size. The House takes this challenge seriously and has been proactive in seeking to solve its own dilemma rather than waiting for change to be imposed from elsewhere.

"The debate on the 5 December was the start of a process of change. This committee is the next step."

The establishment of the committee was announced in the Chamber today by the Lord Speaker. He said:

"My Lords, I would like to make a short statement. On December 5th the House debated a motion in the name of Lord Cormack on the size of the House. The motion sought agreement that the House believed that 'its size should be reduced and methods should be explored by which this could be achieved'.

"61 Members spoke during the debate and the motion was carried unanimously. A feature of many of the speeches that day was that we should not delay in such an examination. Accordingly I am setting up a six member Lord Speaker's committee drawn entirely from the backbenches to examine the possible methods by which the House could be reduced in size.

"I am pleased to announce that Lord Burns has agreed to chair the committee and that the other members of the committee will be Lord Beith, Baroness Browning, Baroness Crawley, Baroness Taylor of Bolton and Lord Wakeham.

"Further details are set out in a Written Ministerial Statement from the Senior Deputy Speaker which is available in the Printed Paper Office. The committee will get down to work as soon as the House resumes after the Christmas recess.

"I would just add that it is not an easy task but hopefully if this issue can be settled, the public will be better able to recognise the true value of this House."

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