On Thursday in the House of Lords there was a very useful debate that took place under the heading of House of Lords: Appointments Process which was started by Richard Balfe who was a Labour member until 2002 after he was expelled because he chose to do something in the EU Parliament that the party group disagreed with. It seems tragic that he was expelled and equally sad that he was the first Labour politician to join the Conservative Party since Reg Prentice in 1977. The debate which he started began with this short statement from him “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have, if any, to establish a committee to review the process for appointing members of the House of Lords” He then carried on making statements but later on one of the other members of the House of Lords who is a Labour member and based in Brighton called Clive Brooke who made this statement
My Lords, I am grateful to the House for the opportunity to intervene in the gap, and I apologise for not putting my name down. I have two points.
First, we have great power, and we are not exercising all the power that we have. If the Government choose to ignore the recommendations made by the Appointments Commission, all of us of like mind should come together and take it into our hands to have a petition against what the Government are doing. If that fails to move them, we should petition the Queen that she should not issue Writs to people who are appointed against the wishes of the Appointments Commission. I would value the Minister’s comments on that before we move to such a position.
Secondly, I take a different line from the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, on the House and how we come to be here. I have been here nearly 25 years. I was a union official and was appointed in the first instance as a union official. Mrs Thatcher changed the rules and I then became an elected official. I had to stand in front of my membership, and I was better for being accountable in that way. The great weakness of this House is that it is not accountable. While-ever it continues like that, particularly in modern society where people are able to communicate in a quite different way, we will come under more and more criticism. We need to look afresh. We need Cross-Benchers; we need people appointed too, but we need an element of accountability, which presently is missing. I appeal to the House, now that we are coming back together again, to take the powers that we have and take control of our future for the work we should be doing for the constitution of the country.
It is very clear that what he is stating is what is required very urgently. Well done Clive, I totally agree with you.