Select Committee on Public Administration Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Letter from Anne Begg MP (LR 43)

  I have just received your letter asking for my views on the composition of a reformed House of Lords.

  I have no strong preference as to whether the House of Lords should be wholly elected or not because I believe that the House of Lords should be abolished completely. I don't think that the constitutional changes which are necessary for complete abolition are yet in place, so I would delay any reform for 5 to 10 years when there is likely to be greater regional government and a radically reformed House of Commons. If the House of Commons undertakes more pre-legislative scrutiny, following the model of the Scottish Parliament, then the floor of the Commons becomes the revising Chamber, negating the need for the Lords. The expertise, presently sitting in the Lords, could possibly be co-opted onto the pre-legislative scrutiny committees as and when required.

  However, we are only part of the way through the devolutionary process. There is still a need for devolution to the English regions which I believe is likely to come to pass over the next 10 years. I favour an asymmetric devolved system similar to the Spanish model.

  I am afraid that if the House of Lords is reformed now it will become entrenched and will be almost impossible to abolish when, in a few years time, the constitutional map of Britain will look very different.

  I realise this is a minority view but I thought your committee would welcome the different views held on House of Lords reform.

Anne Begg MP

Aberdeen South

January 2002

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