By Lord Hunt of Kings Heath - 1st February 2012
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath calls for Lords reform to be dealt with in its proper context, regardless of the Scottish referendum.
The government’s draft bill on Lords reform is currently being scrutinised by a joint select committee chaired by former leader, Lord Ivor Richard. It is expected to report by the end of March.
It proposes a House of 300 members with a third of the seats contested at each general election. A proportional system of election would be used to differentiate it from the Commons. The draft bill provides for 240 elected and 60 appointed members, as well as 12 bishops. A wholly elected chamber is also given as an option.
Bizarrely, it has been widely trailed to be the centrepiece of the forthcoming Queen’s Speech for legislation in the next session.
But now that we are on course for a vote on whether Scotland should leave the UK, it surely puts other constitutional proposals in something of a limbo until the result is known.
The current draft bill already fails to resolve the balance of power between an elected second chamber and the House of Commons. But questions like these pale into insignificance when the possibility of a new devolution settlement is being discussed.
I firmly believe in a UK that is stronger together than apart, and want to see Lords reform dealt with in its proper context rather than as a piecemeal change that cannot anticipate the outcome of the referendum.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath was raised to the peerage in 1997. He is Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords.