Great news that the House of Lords Reform Bill appears to be dead in the water. I can well understand why most people will be left wondering how a Bill which passed at Second Reading by hundreds of votes, far more than most Bills, should fail to make progress. The reason is time, without agreement to limit debate on future stages it would have taken months of Parliamentary time to get the Bill through the Commons and of course it would still have faced almost certain defeat in the Lords. It would then have had to be brought back in again next session with the same process – more months of debate, and no guarantee of success. The Government simply did not want to waste that amount of Parliamentary time on an issue which is regarded as absolutely irrelevant by the vast majority of the British people and I quite agree.
As for the Liberal Democrat threat to vote against the new boundary changes, so be it. I think it just demonstrates the problems with coalition government, something we would probably have permanently if the Liberal Democrats had their way and we introduced proportional representation.
Two days of debate on the House of Lords Reform Bill will inevitably lead to the Bill being passed at its Second Reading because the Opposition will vote with the Government. I will be in the No Lobby.
I do not think that the proposals will do anything to improve the quality of the legislation passed by Parliament which is, as far as I am concerned, the principal question we need to answer before starting major reforms to the House of Lords. I have had very few of my constituents call for yet more elected politicians and whilst the present system is not perfect there would be plenty of problems with any system which is proposed to replace the Lords. I think most people will put reform of the House of Lords fairly low down their list of priorities.
I am back in London today and there is a definite ‘first day of term’ feeling about Parliament. I have done a couple of interviews for local radio this morning and the Queens Speech will take place around 11.30am. The security arrangements have all changed with the blockades being removed and the streets around Parliament being closed to traffic and in many cases to pedestrians too.
As to what will be in the Queen’s Speech I think most measures will be welcomed and as they will all ahve been agreed with the Liberal Democrats I suspect there will not be too many Bills which are particularly controversial. Except of course the Liberal Democrat plans to try and bring about a major constitutional change in the way the House of Lords is elected and operates. There will no doubt be plenty of opportunities in the months ahead for blog posts on Lords reform so I will not start down that path today suffice to say two things. Firstly, I do not sense any great desire among the voters of Bury North for Parliament to spend months on such a matter when there are far more important issues to consider. Secondly, no one ever seems to be able to explain how the proposed reforms will improve the work of the House of Lords.