58.We welcome the initiative of Lord Fowler to set up the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the size of the House, and the hard work and care taken by the Committee to produce its Report reflecting a consensus and its follow up Second Report. We are pleased that the Report has been widely welcomed in the House of Lords itself, and that peers are showing willingness to act. The Report has produced an achievable system for reducing the size of the House of Lords without need for legislation. The early indications from the Burns Committee’s Second Report are that, with commitment from all parties, this reform can succeed.
59.The broad scheme of the Burns report presents an opportunity which must not be missed. This is a minimal incremental reform, which will fall far short of the aspirations of many who wish to see abolition or an elected Upper House; but the House of Lords itself should take the opportunity to make this reform, given that it does not require legislation. Adopting this reform does, however, not remove the pressure for more fundamental reform of the second chamber.
60.While we recommend the non-legislative proposals set out in the Burns Report as an achievable next step for addressing the problem of the size of the House, the task of reforming the second chamber of the UK Parliament must not be put on hold until the issue of the size of the House of Lords is “solved”. This small incremental reform should not halt the pursuit of more radical reform to the second chamber, 107 years after the Parliament Act 1911 was passed only as a temporary expedient.
Published: 19 November 2018