Some of us who are interested in the nations governmental activities are aware of the House of Lords because of the contributions that it sometimes achieves to challenge the Government and improve their Bills. Along with that some of us are also occasionally made aware of the individuals who operate in the Lords. We can be delighted that some people sit outside of the main political agencies and indeed some people who are not in any sense involved in political roles. I have been made aware of some very effective independent members of the House of Lords. I have also been very impressed by some of the political people who are willing to reject calls from their party that sent them into the House of Lords. Sadly, I am aware of some very dominant political party members who are not willing to step back from the most challenging issues that their party arises within the Government. We clearly need to call for a more radical approach.
Last week a well-known person Malcolm Rifkind was speaking in a lecture in the University of Edinburgh and according to one of the sources, it was suggested that he stated “The time may have come for reform of the House of Lords” and he then went on to suggest that the House of Lords would need to become “a partially elected senate”. Malcolm Rifkind was a senior Conservative MP from 1974 to 1997 and then lost his seat. He re-emerged to the House of Commons in 2010 but he only remained in the Commons for the next five years and since then he has been working as a Professor. He went on to state that the upper chamber of parliament may need to change into something which “the time has come to have something that reflects more the age we live in”. He also commented that it perhaps should be
“Maybe elected, not necessarily 100% elected. I think there is a case for appointing members who have already made a contribution to some aspect of public life and whose advice and experience would be valuable.”
He also suggested that this change was unlikely to happen in the short term but he noted the former prime minister Gordon Brown had made similar proposals. It is always interesting to read what local MPs have commented about the House of Lords in the recent past. The current Government has created two significant changes towards the House of Commons with Bills in 2012 and again in 2014. Although at least one MP has spoken many times about the House of Lords, his comments since 2014 were not relevant. However, several of the other MPs have commented since 2014. The most recent comment came from Peter Kyle who is the Hove MP and back in June he stated
“I can say with absolute assurance that members of my party in the House of Lords stand ready to work with Government Members on this issue.”
Now of course that may be very positive but it is concerning if political parties are too strongly connected between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. We clearly need a way of changing that. Earlier this year Peter Bottomley from Worthing West was referring to a Building Safety debate and he stated
“If it comes to Divisions, I will vote in a non-party way to try to keep the intentions of the House of Lords going on most of the issues.“
This was a much more inspiring comment and we clearly need our positive MPs to take that approach. Back in November 2021 Huw Merriman who is the MP for Bexhill and Battle took part in a debate and his contribution included
“I realise that there is a political operation taking place on the Opposition Benches with regard to the House of Lords. It is entirely fair to look at our democratic process systems and propose reform”
which was a very concerning element. Several years earlier the Horsham MP, Jeremy Quin was speaking to a member of the SNP called Pete Wishart and after Jeremy’s comment the response from Pete included
“That is an absurd argument. This is what it comes to. The Conservatives want to abolish the House of Lords not because it is an absurd circus and an embarrassment; they want to abolish it because it is doing the right thing.”
We clearly need to prevent the Government from achieving that. Finally back in 2017 Henry Smith from Crawley said
“I favour a House of Lords that is directly elected by proportional representation, because a revising Chamber would do well to reflect the broad proportional position in this country.”
This is a very clear comment that we should work hard to persuade the Government to participate as soon as possible!