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On the issue of the measures being piecemeal, I would simply say that it is possible to parody any legislation at the time of its introduction. With the single exception of the 1689 Bill of Rights, all legislation
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has been piecemeal. The Reform Act of 1832 was actually relatively modest in scope. It took another 60 years to get anywhere near a universal franchise for men, and 100 years to achieve a franchise for women. The Parliament Act 1911 was seen as a relatively modest interim measure, yet we now see it as having huge importance.

My record on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been mocked. The damnation of it by the Opposition was that it was not much more than a recapitulation of the non-statutory freedom of information code, although I did not agree with that. I think that the facts speak for themselves. The Human Rights Act 1998 might have been dismissed as piecemeal, but that is not what is said about it now. So far as the House of Lords is concerned, the Life Peerages Act 1958 could have been seen as piecemeal change-

Andrew Mackinlay: It was radical for its day.

Mr. Straw: Indeed, and it was of major importance. The House of Lords Act 1999 has changed the composition of the other place, as well as making a major difference to its assertiveness. It has led it to being much more active in regard to change.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine) (LD): Is the Secretary of State saying that, when the history books are written, clause 29 will be a shining highlight of the reform of Parliament?

Mr. Straw: No, that was not the point that I was about to make.

I was going to say that we should not make the best the enemy of the good. There seems to be no one who will defend the principle behind the election of hereditary peers. No one has done so today. Every argument has been a body swerve. Furthermore, we all believe that this will be a step, albeit a modest one, towards reform. I hope that everyone accepts that keeping the hereditary by-elections would not be a provocation for further reform but simply a blockage to the further reform to which all the parties are apparently committed. If we add all that together, we can see a strong case-which was made most eloquently by the hon. Member for Chichester-in favour of this change, and not much of a case against it. With that, I commend the clause to the House.

Question put, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The House divided: Ayes 318, Noes 142.
Division No. 59]
[6.37 pm


Ainger, Nick
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.

Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Mr. Roger
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Grogan, Mr. John
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunter, Mark
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laws, Mr. David
Lazarowicz, Mark

Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mahmood, Mr. Khalid
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh Edward
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Rogerson, Dan
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Ryan, rh Joan
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike

Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Dr. Tony
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Tami and
Mr. George Mudie

Afriyie, Adam
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Browning, Angela
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Butterfill, Sir John
Cash, Mr. William
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorries, Nadine
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Field, Mr. Mark
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Horam, Mr. John
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Main, Anne
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Chloe
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Vara, Mr. Shailesh

Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Stephen Crabb and
Jeremy Wright
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Clause 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 30

Removal of members of house of lords etc

Mr. Tyrie: I beg to move amendment 92, page 15, line 32, at end insert

'or a term peer within the meaning of section [Term peerages] of this Act'.

The First Deputy Chairman: With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment 93, in schedule 4, page 52, line 36, after '(c.21)', insert

'or a term peer under section [Term peerages]'.

New clause 25- Life peerages -

'(1) The Life Peerages Act 1958, is amended is as follows.

(2) In section 1(1), after "life", insert "or such other period as may be specified in the letters patent".

(3) In section 1(2), after "conferred" insert, "or at the end of such other period as may have been specified in the letters patent".'.

New clause 47- Term peerages -

'(1) Her Majesty shall have power by letters patent to confer on any person a term peerage having the incidents specified in subsection (2) of this section.

(2) A term peerage conferred under this section shall entitle the person on whom it is conferred-

(a) to rank as a baron under such style as may be appointed by the letters patent; and

(b) subject to the relevant provisions of sections 30 to 33 above, to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords and sit and vote therein accordingly.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), a term peerage conferred under this section shall expire on the appointed day of poll for the third General Election after the day on which the term peerage was conferred.

(4) Where a period of two years or less has elapsed from the day of conferment of a term peerage under this section to the day of poll for a General Election, that poll for a General Election shall be disregarded for the purposes of calculation under subsection (3) above of the time of expiry of that term peerage.'.

Mr. Tyrie: This is a relatively modest proposal that I worked up last year with my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young). New clause 47 and the consequential amendments will create a new class of peerage: term peers. As their name implies, term peers would be appointed for a fixed period rather than for life. The length of their term could and probably should be based on the approach already agreed by the major parties in their discussions on the make-up of a democratic Chamber-namely, that a predominantly elected second Chamber would comprise those serving a single long and non-renewable term of probably three Parliaments.

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The term length was a proposal that came out of the talks on the White Paper, but I recognise that, in the search for consensus, some further changes could be considered for the way in which term peers are appointed, which concerns the Liberal Democrats.

I am proposing a modest step-certainly much more modest than the democratically elected second Chamber that I believe the British people deserve. If I thought that a democratic option could get through by consensus at this time, I would support it wholeheartedly, but I know that it will not. If we tried, the result would be a controversial Bill leading to a huge row. As I said, the plain fact is that the British people would find it extraordinary if the next Government, faced with the biggest economic mess since the 1930s, with the highest level of debt to GDP and the highest deficit since the second world war, decided to embark on a major constitutional upheaval. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Field) said, such a reform would absorb all the political energy of this place for at least a year. It would be irresponsible to engage in that with so many crucial economic questions facing us.

However, all three major parties support democracy for the Lords. It is also true, although the figure is not often mentioned-my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) did mention it-that 59 per cent. of Conservative MPs voted in 2007 for a largely or wholly elected second Chamber. There were even higher majorities in favour of democracy in the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. The point has been made that some of that voting might have been tactical; of course that is true, but some of the voting against democracy might have been tactical, too. That tells us absolutely nothing. The fact is that there is a clear majority in this place for democracy-there probably has been for a long time. It is regrettable that using their large majorities the Labour Government have not found an opportunity to take us further down the road.

The problem is that any major Bill simply would not get past the Lords. I have no doubt that the Lords would oppose it. An early Bill to introduce democracy for the second Chamber would lead us straight into a constitutional crisis that the public would not understand, even though two thirds or three quarters of them support such a measure. They will rightly expect the Government to get on with the economic crisis in front of us.

By contrast, the term peers measure will not cause a constitutional crisis. Its advantages would be relatively modest, but they are at least straightforward and I hope that colleagues will agree that they are worth having. First, they would take the House of Lords a step along the road of what Lord Jay, the Chairman of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, described as moving along the curve from honour to job. We need a Chamber of people who are committed to fulfilling a parliamentary role and to doing a job of work in the 21st century, not a status House or a legacy status House. There is an increasingly important job for the second Chamber to do and the term peers proposal will increase the chances of getting a higher degree of commitment and quality from the people who are put there to do the job.

The second argument in favour of the proposal is that a major problem of the existing House would be addressed: the inevitable upward ratchet in the size of the House, given the way that it is presently constituted.
26 Jan 2010 : Column 733
The Government have been concerned about that problem, which occurs because an incoming Government inevitably want to make sure that their party is the largest single party in the Lords. The first thing that they will do under the existing rules-they have no choice-is to appoint a large number of life peers. Of course that life term is likely to be longer than the average life of the incoming Government and so those peers will still be there afterwards, leading to a ratchet effect each time and to an ever larger House. That becomes even more true as parties, as they have begun to do, seek to appoint somewhat younger lifers in order to get plenty of work out of them. That means that the peers will be there for even longer, even before we take into account increased life expectancy. The Lords will continue to grow.

At 740 Members, the Lords is already the largest democratic Chamber in the world-if we exclude the Chinese national party congress, which is the only other chamber as big. Britain, as far as I know, is also the only bicameral democracy with a second Chamber larger than the main Chamber, which is quixotic. Ending the ratchet will be hugely valuable and term peers will take us a long way down the road to dealing with it.

A third reason for supporting term peerages might seem paradoxical-particularly coming from me-but it is that the proposals would leave the existing life peerage wholly unaffected. That would minimise the risk of friction as term peerages are introduced. Should the parties decide so to do while in government, life peerages could be phased out or brought to an end, so the life peerage could be replaced by the term peerage, albeit quite slowly. That was how, gradually-not immediately-the hereditary peerage was phased out after life peerages were introduced in 1958.

Given that, for various reasons, neither party has the stomach for fundamental reform of the Lords and that this is probably an inappropriate moment in the economic cycle to attempt such reform, we need to make the best of what we have-the existing House-and I hope that this modest proposal will achieve that. It will provide the maximum benefit with the minimum disruption and it will address the ratchet, so I hope that it will be supported by Members across the House.

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