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Lord Ashley of Stoke: I am grateful for that offer. Of course we want those discussions. I hope that my noble friend will go back to his department and explain the strong feelings which have been expressed on all sides of the Committee. Not only would the amendment not do any harm; it would do positive good.

I do not want to embarrass my noble friend any further. But we want Northern Ireland deafblind people to be provided for one way or the other. I shall take his word on this occasion. I shall withdraw the amendment on the clear understanding that the issue will be raised again. I hope that between now and Report stage there will be consultation between Members who have spoken in the debate and the department. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 5 not moved.]

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Interpretation]:

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 6:

The noble Lord said: This amendment is intended to meet the Government's wish for a "tighter" definition in so far as that is possible and to tie the definition in the Bill more closely to that used for the purposes of planning services.

On Second Reading, my noble friend Lord Hunt referred to the definition adopted by the Deafblind Services Liaison Group. In 1988 the group published

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a report, Breaking Through - Developing Services for Deafblind People. In the report, the group used the following definition:

    "Persons are regarded as deafblind if they have a severe degree of combined visual and auditory impairment resulting in problems of communication, information and mobility".

The emphasis is on,

    "a severe degree of combined ... impairment".

The report went on to say that the category will include persons who have had severe vision and hearing impairment since birth or early childhood and those who develop dual sensory impairment in adult life. It will include also persons who, having one severe sensory impairment, are in the early stages of a second sensory impairment with a prognosis of further deterioration; people who are born deaf and have an acquired visual loss, and people who are born blind and have an acquired hearing loss. It will, in addition, include those people whose degree of vision or hearing impairment is difficult to assess, perhaps because they have learning disabilities, but who function as "vision and hearing impaired". The majority, at some point in their lives, are likely to need the link services for which the Bill seeks to legislate.

The identification projects subsequently carried out for or by local authorities have used that definition successfully. I refer, for example, to the Royal National Institute for the Blind's research into services for deafblind people in Essex which identified people with dual sensory disability. The partners in that project, RNIB and Essex social services, stressed that they were seeking to identify people less by the degree of sensory disability and more by their functional response to a combined hearing and sight impairment. They emphasised that the severe combination of sight and hearing loss creates a separate, complex and potentially isolating situation and that even less severe levels of loss, when in combination, occasion profound disability and resulting handicap. That combination is the heart of the matter. If one has a sight impairment, it is difficult. A hearing impairment is difficult. But the combination creates an entirely different--indeed, a unique--disability. That must be driven through the heart of the debate. A recent project in my former constituency, Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, also emphasised that,

    "it is not just a matter of adding two disabilities together and should be recognised by all agencies as a distinct disability".

Where different combinations of sight and hearing loss have been used as categories or classifications for the purposes of identification, they have usually included the following combinations: deaf/blind; partially hearing/blind; deaf/partially sighted; and partially hearing/partially sighted. The latter category is as important as the others. That is because of the compounding effects of dual sensory loss. The effects of a partial hearing loss and partial sight loss are multiplicative. Where one sense is impaired, as I have just mentioned, even a slight problem in the remaining sense assumes an importance out of all proportion with the actual measured degree of impairment in the second sense. It is not necessary to be totally deaf or

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totally blind to be deafblind. One can be partially one and partially the other and have an extremely severe disability.

What we need now is a legal definition of "deafblindness" as provided in Clause 5 to ensure consistency in the identification process and in the planning of services to facilitate an appropriate response from local authorities. Such legal definitions as apply to deafblind people--for example, in the "deaf" and "blind" provisions within the Disability Living Allowance Regulations--have been deeply unhelpful and disfranchising, based upon purely medical criteria and failing to take into account the compounding effects of dual sensory impairment. I believe that that is why most people do not understand the problem of deafblindess. They see one aspect or the other, but they do not really comprehend the unique nature of the disability. We should try to get the definition on to the statute book in this clear form and make provision for people who have been neglected for many, many years.

It will be impossible to develop any measurable performance indicators for deafblind people unless the Government, first, adopt a definition which all local authorities can use consistently and, secondly, impose a clear, specific duty on local authorities to identify people who fall within that definition. I beg to move.

Lord Astor of Hever: I rise to support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Ashley, has explained the problem clearly. We agree that a legal definition of "deafblindness" is needed to ensure consistency in the identification process and in the planning of services and to facilitate an appropriate response from local authorities.

Lord Burlison: I thank my noble friend Lord Ashley for tabling the amendment. It brings the definition of "deafblindness" in line with that used by local authorities and the Social Services Inspectorate. People who have a permanent severe degree of combined visual and auditory impairment resulting in problems of communication, information and mobility come within the scope of Section 29(1) of the National Assistance Act 1948. With that in mind, we are happy to go along with the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 7 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

1.45 p.m.

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 8:

    Page 2, line 11, leave out ("or") and insert ("and").

The noble Lord said: This is a purely technical amendment. This clause needs to state clearly that the role of a deafblind link service is to encompass the functions of communication, access to information and to mobility, which are, after all, inseparable. That is what makes the service a unique solution to what are unique needs. If one is guiding a deafblind person, one will need to stop and communicate environmental and verbal information to him via his

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preferred communication methods: deafblind manual/hands-on sign or other methods. It is no use a person being guided by someone who cannot communicate with him, or to have someone who may be able to communicate with him but has not been trained in how to guide him. That will not meet a deafblind person's needs. Because this is a simple and purely technical amendment, I am hoping that the Government will be as generous and as helpful as they were on the previous one. I beg to move.

Lord Burlison: Once again, I thank my noble friend Lord Ashley for the amendment. We believe that its intention is to clarify that a deafblind link service will cover all those services, rather than just one on the list. We recognise that one-to-one support workers will provide any or all of the services listed in the clause. One-to-one support workers can be provided under Section 2(1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970. In view of that, we are pleased to give the amendment our support.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: I am most grateful to my noble friend. I was remiss not to thank him on the previous amendment. I thank him for accepting both amendments. I am very grateful.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Clause 6 agreed to.

House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.

Life Peerages (Appointments Commission) Bill [H.L.]

1.50 p.m.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time. Why do I wish to place the selection of life Peers on a statutory basis? Fundamentally, I believe that it is constitutionally undesirable for the composition of a parliamentary body to be determined by the executive. The executive is supposed to be accountable to Parliament.

In the present circumstances, that is especially true because the executive powers are to be exercised through the Royal Prerogative, unfettered by the inconvenience of parliamentary scrutiny.

Moreover, decisions about the size of your Lordships' House and its political composition remain exclusively with the executive. In that respect, I regard it as significant that the PricewaterhouseCoopers information pack, distributed by that august firm in the context of its responsibilities for selecting members of the appointments commission, states:

    "The Prime Minister will decide the overall number of nominations for the Queen's awards as Peers".

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No Prime Minister, who retains control over the overall size of your Lordships' House and over the political proportions within it, can claim to have given up the powers of patronage in respect of your Lordships' House.

I should add that there are no guarantees whatever for the numbers of Cross-Bench Peers. Those guarantees can only be made by statutory arrangements.

My purpose in promoting this Bill is to seek a consensus in your Lordships' House on the appropriate way forward. Until recently, consensus was the normal way in which constitutional change came about in our country. I trust that consensus will be established following discussion of appropriate amendments in Committee.

The Government are already on record as accepting the desirability of a statutory appointments commission for stage two of their proposals for reform. As the Government have said that they will certainly move to stage two soon, I cannot understand why there should be any objection to anticipating it. Indeed, that may give the nation some confidence in the Government's assertion that they want to get there.

In order to help the Government further, the text of the Bill is founded as closely as possible on the content of the Government's White Paper and the PricewaterhouseCoopers information pack.

I turn to the clauses. Clause 1(2)(a) states that the commission shall,

    "be appointed in accordance with the rules of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and may seek his advice about best practice in attracting and assessing potential nominees".

That accords precisely with the riding instructions given to PricewaterhouseCoopers by the Cabinet Office.

Paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of Clause 1(2) deal with the type of person whom the Cabinet Office and PricewaterhouseCoopers hope to attract. Clause 1(2)(b) states that the commission shall,

    "operate an open and transparent nominations system for members of the House of Lords not belonging to, or recommended by, any political party".

Clause 1(2)(c) states that the commission shall,

    "actively invite nominations by the general public and encourage nominations from such professional associations, charities and other public bodies as it judges appropriate".

Clause 1(2)(d) states that the commission shall,

    "publish criteria under which it will determine a candidate's suitability for nomination".

Those three paragraphs reflect almost precisely the statement made by the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal on 20th January 1999 to your Lordships' House that the commission will,

    "be encouraged to seek nominations from many sources, including members of the public".--[Official Report, 20/1/99; col. 584.]

Paragraphs (e) and (f) of Clause 1(2) state that the commission shall,

    "reinforce the function of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee in vetting the suitability of all nominations for the conferment of life peerages under the 1958 Act by the political

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    parties; and scrutinise all nominations for life peerages under the 1958 Act on the grounds of propriety in relation to political donations, as proposed in the 5th Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life".

Again, the wording mirrors the tasks set out in the PricewaterhouseCoopers information pack which states:

    "The Commission will vet all nominations to life peerages, including political nominations, for suitability. That will include scrutinising them on grounds of propriety in relation to political donations".

The only one, clear exception to what is reflected in Cabinet Office stipulations and the information pack seems to appear in Clause 1(3), which requires that,

    "The Commission shall appoint its own Chairman".

Clearly, that is meat which proves too strong for the Cabinet Office because the Government propose a chairman appointed by the Cabinet Office.

Clause 1(4) states that the commission,

    "shall, at most every 6 months, and at least every year, propose to the Prime Minister sufficient nominations as Cross Bench members at least to fill any vacancies among Cross Bench members that may occur through death, disqualification or a decision to join a political party represented in that House".

Some noble Lords may recall the debates during the passage of the House of Lords Bill, and in particular an amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Coleraine. This clause is inspired by the consequences of that debate. Of course, in addition to the obligation to consider matters "at most every six months", there will be the normal New Year's Honours List and the Birthday Honours List appointments. I foresee that those appointments will also be taken into account by the commission. That means that non-political, Cross-Bench Peers will be appointed to your Lordships' House more frequently than in the past.

In my submission, what appears in the draft Bill reflects reasonably well what appears in the PricewaterhouseCoopers information pack, which states that the commission,

    "will be likely to be called to contribute at least twice a year".

Clause 1(5) states:

    "The Prime Minister may not refuse to submit to Her Majesty the names of those recommended as Cross Bench members by the Commission, and shall not seek to influence such nominations, save in exceptional circumstances, such as those endangering the security of the realm".

Again, the clause reflects, and is reflected by, similar wording in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers information pack.

Clause 1(6) states:

    "In considering nominations as Cross Bench members the Commission shall not give any additional weight to recommendations from the Prime Minister or the Leaders of other political parties".

This clause, as your Lordships must have been aware at a glance, seeks to prevent the Prime Minister trying to influence the commission's recommendations. It is, in particular, intended to block pressure to put party supporters on the Cross Benches in order to frustrate the effect of Clause 1(7)(b). That subsection states that

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one of the criteria the commission should follow in making appointments is that,

    "there is broad parity of numbers between the number of members of the House of Lords who support Her Majesty's Government and the number of those who support the main opposition party in the House of Lords".

I readily admit that such a clause would be otiose in an elected House.

Clause 1(7)(c) states that,

    "the proportion of the Cross Bench members to the total number of members of the House of Lords holding life peerages under the 1958 Act remains as it was on the day before the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999".

The intention is that, when additional political appointments are made, those appointments will automatically trigger proportional increases in Cross-Bench Members. I suspect that those Cross-Bench Members who are present in your Lordships' House today are acutely aware of the deterioration in the proportion of Cross-Bench Members to political appointees since the passage of the House of Lords Bill. I believe that, at the time of its passage, the proportions were 354 out of a total of 1,211--in other words, nearly 30 per cent of your Lordships' House--whereas now, the equivalent numbers being 166 and 698, the proportion has dropped to under 24 per cent.

Clauses 1(8) and (9) seek to establish the way in which the commission is appointed. Clause 1(8) states:

    "The Commission shall consist of eight members of the Privy Council, of whom four shall be appointed by a special Commission of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Lord Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords".

Clause 1(9) states:

    "Each of the three largest parties in the House of Commons shall appoint one Commissioner on the nomination of the Leader of each such party, and one Commissioner shall be appointed from the Cross Bench members on the nomination of the Convenor of the Cross Bench peers".

The reflection of these subsections in the Cabinet brief can only be described as being a very pale one. What the Cabinet brief requires is previous experience as a spokesman in a high profile role.

There may well be arguments advanced later in the legislative stages of this Bill which convincingly demonstrate that persons other than Privy Counsellors might be appropriate to be candidates for seats on the commission. I believe that Privy Counsellors are the right persons, first, because matters of confidentiality and secrecy will be discussed concerning certain candidates and Privy Counsellors have access to information which other citizens do not; secondly, there is something to be said for the fact that, at least in political life, it is the view of some that once the rank of Privy Counsellor is obtained, most, if not all, ambition is vanquished. Therefore, there would be at least a degree of objectivity in the process of selection which might be absent in those who are simply aspirants.

However, at this stage of the Bill, I do not wish to appear dogmatic about this matter. Whoever sits on the commission can do better than what is proposed by the Government. In my view, the saddest observation of all on the Government's handling of this matter is that future selectors of Members of your Lordships' House

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will be directly appointed by the Cabinet Office on the recommendation of a firm of chartered accountants. Some might have thought that that was an abuse of Parliament's powers. But we have become so accustomed to the nature of constitutional change that has been made by the Government in the past two or three years that our sensibilities in this regard might now have been blunted. I commend the Bill to your Lordships' House.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.--(Lord Kingsland.)

2.5 p.m.

Viscount Bledisloe: My Lords, I start by expressing my genuine and humble apologies for the fact that I shall not be able to stay until the end of this debate, and my thanks for my consequential elevation in the list of speakers. Before this Bill was scheduled for today, I had already arranged a number of meetings in the country. I succeeded in cancelling and rearranging those which were to take place in the daytime, but I am afraid that I have an immovable obligation to preside over a meeting early this evening and therefore, with my apologies, I shall have to absent myself.

I hope that, notwithstanding my premature departure, the Minister will answer at least most of the questions which I shall be posing. I have given him notice of them--albeit somewhat tardy and, indeed, scruffy notice. I venture to believe that they raise matters of concern to a number of Members of this House and, in particular, to those Members who sit on these Benches.

For two reasons, to which I shall come, I welcome this Bill and both thank and congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, on his initiative in introducing it. My reasons for welcoming the Bill are, first, because it is high time--or, indeed, on the figures given by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, well past high time--that we had an appointments commission and, so far, none has been forthcoming. Secondly, when we have an appointments commission, it will be a body that has to perform a very important function and one to which, in reality, a sizeable part of the Royal prerogative is being delegated. In those circumstances, such a body should be established on a statutory basis. As the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said, it is wrong that a body which is in effect selecting members of the legislature should be set up by the executive act of the Prime Minister, without debate and without the authority of Parliament.

I apprehend that the noble and learned Lord may well say to the House that this Bill is unnecessary because the Government are going to set up a voluntary commission anyway. As I have said, I would regard such an answer as constitutionally inadequate. It is also somewhat unconvincing. During the passage of the House of Lords Bill, the House was frequently told that the commission would be set up almost immediately; indeed, we were told that it could have been in place by the time that the Bill was passed had it not been for the conduct of the Conservative Party in amending the Bill, or inducing the House to do so, to include a statutory commission. Whatever the constitutional validity of

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that may have been, it is somewhat depressing that, notwithstanding the assurances that it was all ready to go, we are now five months from the passing of the legislation and still without any commission; and, therefore, without many Cross-Bench Peers being appointed.

To enable the House to evaluate and compare the prospect of a non-statutory commission as against the commission envisaged by this Bill, there are certain questions that I should like to put to the Minister about the Government's unofficial commission and the way in which it is intended that it will operate. I venture to suggest that these questions will raise issues of principle and importance to the effective maintenance of a genuinely independent element in this House.

I turn to my first question. Clause 1(9) provides that of the eight members of the commission, three shall be nominated by the leaders of each of the three main parties and one shall be nominated by the Convenor of the Cross Benches. As the main function of this commission is to select independent Members of this House, as opposed to merely vetting the party nominations, there would seem to be a very much stronger and more obvious justification for having a nominee of the Convenor rather than three party nominees. Can the noble and learned Lord say whether it is intended that the commission to be developed by the Government will include a nominee of the Convenor? If it will not, can he say why on earth not?

Secondly, Clause 1(7)(c) allocates to the Cross Benches a percentage quota of the membership of this House. As the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said, that quota is founded on the numbers and proportions that existed immediately before the enactment of the House of Lords Act. Subsection (4) of the clause requires that that quota be maintained. Under the Government's scheme, can the noble and learned Lord say whether it is intended that there shall be an express percentage quota that has to be maintained? Further, if it is so intended, will that quota be that calculated in accordance with Clause 1(7)(c); that is to say, in accordance with the proportions immediately before the coming into effect of the Act? If it is not to be that quota, can the noble and learned Lord tell us what it is be and how it will be defined and calculated?

Thirdly, I should like to know how the fulfilment of that quota is to be measured. Can the Minister say what categories of Members of this House are to be included as counting against the independent quota? In other words, are those who make up the quota to be those Peers who are genuinely independent of any political party, or can the quota be deemed to be fulfilled by counting everyone who is not currently taking a party Whip in the House?

The Government have frequently expressed their commitment to maintaining "a strong independent" element in this House. But that commitment will have very little real value if a considerable part of the quota is in fact taken up by persons who have a firm and well-known commitment to one of the political parties,

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albeit that such persons are not, for the moment, taking a party Whip. I seek to indicate some of the categories of person which I have in mind.

We all know that there are persons with a firm and strong party political commitment and who have followed a party political career who, at a particular moment, occupy a non-political post, albeit everyone knows that their politics remain the same and indeed that they will return to their party, and probably to the Front Bench of their party, when they cease to hold the relevant post. Two names spring readily to mind. One is the noble Lord, Lord Robertson, who obviously cannot sit on a party Bench while he holds his present post. The other is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern--I mention the noble and learned Lord to ensure that I am not scoring a party political point--who sat on the Conservative Front Bench as Lord Advocate, on the Cross Benches as a Law Lord, and who then returned to the Conservative Front Bench as Lord Chancellor. One ventures to believe that neither of those persons greatly changed their political views while they held non-political office.

I now turn to persons who are currently not in receipt of their party Whip. They may have had their Whip withdrawn. One can think, without doing a great deal of historical research, of one or two recent examples. However, those persons are determined to return to their party fold as soon as their party will have them back. Are they really to be treated as independent and as a partial fulfilment of the quota merely because they have been temporarily expelled for party reasons?

My next point is more serious because it concerns potentially greater numbers. Are those who voluntarily resign their party Whip and move to the Cross Benches for tactical reasons to be counted towards the quota of independents? I can say with some certainty that the officials of at least some parties are certainly not blind to the substantial numerical advantage of moving some of their supporters to a "slot" on the Cross Benches, thereby counting against the Cross-Bench quota, and thus obtaining for their own party additional appointments to their ranks.

The Bill seeks to prevent the parties achieving appointments of people who are too closely allied to them, but it says nothing about the subsequent movements of persons who are presently in the House or who come into the House under party guise. I accept that this point will arise whether we have the statutory commission in accordance with the Bill or a voluntary commission set up by the Government. However, it is an important issue if this House is to maintain a genuinely independent element. I believe that the issue has not been addressed so far, at least publicly; and it is one to which an answer is badly needed.

My final question arises out of that point. Is it intended that once some kind of commission is established all appointments to this House, other than those made on party nominations, shall be of persons who are genuinely independent and who intend to commit an appreciable amount of their time to the

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work of this House? Or, is it envisaged, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, anticipates, that peerages will continue to be conferred honoris causa to the great and the good? Of course, it will be for the appointments commission to decide on individual nominations, but is it to select only active independent working Peers, or are peerages still to be conferred on the great and the good? If peerages are to be conferred on the great and the good, where are those persons counted if, for example, they are either well-known supporters of one party or another--albeit not actually nominated by that party--or if they have manifested, and indeed publicly stated, an intention not to play a great part in the House but merely to accept the honour?

I hope that the noble and learned Lord will be able to answer some of these questions which will enable us to evaluate whether the voluntary commission is an acceptable substitute for the statutory commission, notwithstanding its constitutional deficiencies. I reiterate my apologies to the House for my premature departure.

2.20 p.m.

Lord Wedderburn of Charlton: My Lords, there is an honourable tradition of dealing with difficult subjects on Friday afternoons. In 1906 the government of the day successfully pressed the completion of the Committee stage of the Trade Disputes Bill in a sitting extending beyond 11 o'clock at night. Hansard records that at one point Mr Balfour said,

    "I shall take no further part in these proceedings myself, and I advise my friends to follow my example".--[Official Report, Commons, 3/8/06; col. 1775.]

Hansard goes on:

    "[The right hon. Gentleman then left the chamber followed by most of the Unionist Members.]"--

leaving Lord Robert Cecil to carry the torch of the last-ditchers. I am sure that there will be no exact parallels with this Bill, except perhaps that the Cecils may once again be at the cutting edge of subterranean political events.

The parallels that emerge today are more relevant to the efforts made to reform this House in 1968-69. Indeed, our discussions about the current problems of the House may be improved a little if we all read again in full the difficulties which arose at that time, when reforms which were perceived to be a threat to the House of Commons united a most remarkable group: my right honourable friend Michael Foot and Robert Sheldon on one side of the House; Mr Boyd-Carpenter and Enoch Powell on the other. They successfully stopped the reforms in their tracks, in what the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, called "a brilliant mockery of the Bill's proposals". Under those provisions, hereditary Peers could still sit but could not speak. So far, I think we have done better by comparison. However, I do not believe that there are no such independent spirits at the other end of the corridor to take issue with some parts of the present Bill.

The Bill is concerned with the composition, the personnel, of the House--not with its powers. Anything I say about powers is not meant as a criticism

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of the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland; I congratulate him on bringing it before us. After I had read it, I likened it to being not quite so difficult as the favourite question of some Oxford colleagues: "Question One. What is Question One about?" There is a list in the Bill which makes a useful agenda to confront part of the issues with which we and the Government are struggling so much.

In 24 years of attending this House, I have found, somewhat to my surprise, that I have been persuaded that my initial unicameralist views were not wholly correct. But that prompts the question: why do we need a second Chamber? In my submission--this is relevant to the Bill--it is in order to have a proper scrutiny of all important and public Bills. That raises the question: by whom?

As the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, made clear, the Bill makes a special point of the Cross-Bench category. I take issue with the noble Viscount about the question of who are the Cross-Benchers. In my view, if someone with an eminent but political career says that he or she no longer holds to the Whip of a political party, he or she has a personal right to be treated as a Cross-Bencher, even though everyone knows that what he says may still be affected by his past and present beliefs. It would be quite intolerable for the Cross-Benchers to have the power to exclude anyone for reasons of that kind.

This agenda, which is admirably set in Clause 1, will not be accepted as the full agenda by large groups of people. It will not be accepted by the young--who tend to join political parties rather less than when I was young, which I regret. It will not be accepted easily in terms of a set of criteria to be proclaimed by the commission itself. Surely such criteria should be put at least to the House of Commons. The ethnic communities will not buy it; feminists are unlikely to trust it as not having a glass ceiling quota. In other words, this structure will not easily be accepted.

All manner of religious and non-religious bodies will want a special place in the sun, raising issues as to the Establishment of the Anglican Church, and the parallel case for atheists will be quite unanswerable. MI6 may buy it because, under subsection (5), it is to retain a special route to the Prime Minister, but protesters against genetically modified food and other gene manipulation will be unlikely to buy it. What I am saying is that putting eight Privy Counsellors in charge, instead of another person or another group of persons, will not buy acceptance in a very large number of areas of modern life. It might have worked once, but, unless there is a miraculous change in the composition of the Privy Council, the formula of eight Privy Counsellors is unlikely to solve the problems of which we are all aware.

One of those problems is patronage. We have to be clear that almost--

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