As regards the noble Lord's second question, the Government continue to expect from all Peers the commitment of time necessary to ensure that the House as whole fulfils its functions. If only all noble Lords would take their duties as seriously and work as hard as the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew.
Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Leader of the House for that exceptionally courteous reply. I assure him that it is extremely welcome at last to hear some thinking on this subject from the Government in this House on this occasion. Is there perhaps some new Labour principle of noblesse oblige that working Peers should work without pay? Have the Government given thought to the composition of the House? Will its members not have to be either very old, with Peers in receipt of retirement pensions from other employment, or in receipt of private means, like not a few of the recent appointments to your Lordships' House?
Lord Richard: My Lords, I think of little else other than the composition of your Lordships' House. It is with me daily. The noble Lord asks a very interesting question. We must wait to see what the House looks like when the interim House has arrived.
Lord Richard: My Lords, I am indeed well aware that Ministers of your Lordships' House are underpaid and overworked. I am aware also that the allowances and expenses paid to your Lordships for the work that your Lordships do occasions a great deal of unrest. Being aware of those two facts, it is incumbent upon me, as Leader of the House, to make sure that my ministerial colleagues are also aware of them.
Lord Waddington: My Lords, in what respects will the Bill which the Government now propose to introduce differ from the Parliament (No. 2) Bill of the 1968-69 Session? Were Michael Foot, Robert Sheldon and other Labour MPs right to destroy that Bill on the basis that it would create a quango based on party political patronage or were they guilty of constitutional outrage in allowing themselves, with Enoch Powell and many hereditary Peers, to destroy the Bill?
Lord Richard: My Lords, the noble Lord must wait for the terms of the Bill which will be published in due course at a time when the Government believe it proper to do so. He can then no doubt make a proper comparison.
Lord McCarthy: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the great problem with Peers' expenses is that they are updated with reference to the RPI? Therefore, in real terms, they can never improve. However, the expenses in the other place are updated in all kinds of strange and wonderful ways which mean that they improve all the time.
Lord Ewing of Kirkford: My Lords, has my noble friend read the Fabian pamphlet published by my noble friend Lord Desai and the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, on the future composition of your Lordships' House? It suggests a Wednesday night lottery draw with a seat in your Lordships' House instead of money for the winners.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, as Members of your Lordships' House can claim just over £30 per day in out-of-pocket expenses and bearing in mind the fact that the House sits on average for just under seven hours a day, that equates to an hourly rate of about £4.50 or £4.60. Does my noble friend the Leader of the House think that that is a reasonable recompense for the efforts of noble Lords?
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, can the noble Lord the Leader of the House say whether there is any truth in rumours which are circulating to the effect that quite a few of the new Peers on the opposite Benches are finding their duties rather more onerous than they expected? If that is so, can the noble Lord tell the House with what confidence he approaches the appointment of so many more Peers on the Benches opposite?
Lord Glenamara: My Lords, is it not a bit much that we have to subsidise the House in the matter of our travel refunds, sometimes for a period of six weeks? Cannot a system of vouchers be introduced as is the case in the other place? After all, the number of times that noble Lords are travelling is known and, therefore, such a system could not be abused. I believe that that would be very much better.
Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that Answer. Can my noble friend confirm reports that the Government intend to arrange for the generators to take 26 million tonnes of coal a year for the next five years? Further, in view of what he said, can my noble friend say whether the Government believe that electricity from gas-fired power stations really is cheaper than that from coal-fired stations, especially when one has to take into consideration the huge cost involved in building new gas-fired stations? Finally, how much importance do the Government place on security of supply, bearing in mind that the generally accepted reserves in this country would last about 100 years?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, my noble friend is tempting me to anticipate the conclusion of the review which, as I indicated, will shortly be forthcoming. However, I fear that I must disappoint him in that regard. The point about security of supply to which my noble friend alluded is something which falls to be dealt with in the review.
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