Draft House of Lords Reform Bill - Draft House of Lords Reform Bill Joint Committee Contents

Nadhim Zahawi MP

I would like to register on record, my concerns regarding the draft House of Lords Reform Bill. 

It is clear that when the direction of travel across Government is, as is laid out in the foreword to the draft bill "to move power from the centre to the people", that it is important that we consider accountability and modernisation in the second Chamber. 

Modernisation and reform is after all not something that can be ignored, be it in the sitting hours of the Commons or the working practices of the Second Chamber, however I feel that we must question what form modernisation should take. 

The underlying argument of the House of Lords Reform Bill is that more elections equals modernisation. However that simply is not the case, modernisation can in fact take many forms, all of which could improve accountability and function, without having to lose the detailed and expert knowledge that currently exists in the second Chamber.

It is the unique nature of the way members are appointed to the House of Lords that makes it possible to find a world renowned expert on any topic there. An individual or group of individuals who, without the need for briefings or preparation from staff, can speak eloquently and with great knowledge on any legislation that comes before them. It is this unique mix of knowledge and skill, which is found no where else in government, that has enabled the Lords to, again in the words of the draft bill's foreword, "Serve the country with distinction"

I have significant concerns that the proposals for a primarily elected Lords, as put forward in the draft Bill, will lose this great and ever evolving bank of knowledge, and replace it with merely a sub-standard imitation of the House of Commons. 

I would therefore urge you to consider not just the content of this Bill, but whether it's underlying argument that modernisation must equal elections is correct.

11th October 2011

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