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Lord Goodhart: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree, having read the Commons debate, that, possibly because it was time-limited to five hours, it was a much better debate than we have had in this House?
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I am so glad that the noble Lord made that point; I was about to give two examples to show what a deeply disappointing debate it was.
Let me first point outI firmly believe thisthat there is no great public demand for reform of this House. When Bernard Ingham ran the lobby, of which I was a member for many years, and someone produced something and said, "What are the government doing about that?", he would often say, "All I can tell you is that that is not what they are talking about in The Three Ferrets at Hebdon Bridge". That was often a very relevant answer. We learned from the brilliant speech of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, that if the minds of the people in The Three Ferrets are focused on these issues, they may wellit is only a small pollcome to recognise the value of an appointed House. I believe that he said that the figures are four to one in favour of an appointed House. That was without him trying to bend their ear, other than by chairing the meeting.
Let us return to the House of Commons debate and the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. I shall give only two examples. Mr Hague said that he hoped that an elected House would add to the boisterousness and effectiveness of the upper House. What a strange idea. I remember when I came here after 16 years in the Commons Press Gallery being warned by one of my colleagues who knew both Houses much better than I did, "Don't be misled by the absence of 'Yah boo' politics in the Lords. You will find that a sharp intake of breath when you say something silly can be just as devastating".
My second example involves a very senior Liberal, Mr Paul Tyler, who I believe is in the shadow Cabinet, or whatever the Liberal Party calls it. I have a lot of time for himI have known him for yearsbut do you know what he said? He said:
I hope that Members of the House of Commons realise that we are on their side and that we are there to reinforce them and to do the job that they are no longer allowed to do. If we can persuade them of that, they may well see the virtue of this House.
Besides the detailed scrutiny of legislation and the European issue, there is also a role for the gadfly in this Houseor perhaps, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth said, for the "troublesome priest". Sadly, that is an increasingly rare species in the Commons today. Of course some remain: Dennis Skinner, Teddy Taylor and Tam Dalyell, to name but three. But many of the names in the roll-call of honour of those who harry the government when they get things wrong are from long agofrom almost my childhood. I refer to Sydney Silverman, Bessie Braddock, Enoch Powell, Geoffrey Dickens and Leo Abse, and, more recently, Michael Cox and Peter Shore, who also performed a brilliant job in this House. I am very glad that we still have people such as that, and I do not believe that the method by which the House of Commons is selected will increase that number. It is diminishing.
Politics is not the battle that it was in the days of the doctrinal divide. That means that life in the Commons is probably less exciting than it was when there was a great battle between socialism and capitalism. I believe that that may well have an influence on the quality of the people who want to go to the House of Commons. Having a Conservative government in power certainly causes certain problems for my party.
I do not believe that we can have a House in which people are treated differently. I was interested to hear the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, say that there would be no difference between 300 elected and 300 non-elected Members. He said that they would be exactly the same. I doubt that. But when he went on to say that the elected Members would be paid salaries and allowances but that all Members would be the same, I considered that to be quite Orwellian:
I warn your Lordships against the idea of representatives of interest groups. The kind of people who want to represent interest groups are not normally the high-flyers. It is not a top doctor who heads the BMA, and so on. I do not like the idea because I associate it with corporate government from the fascist days of the past or, if you like, the mandated delegates so beloved of the Trotskyites in the days of Militant. Such representatives would be required to put forward the view of those that sent them and there would be pressure to recall them instantly if they did not do what they were told to do. That would be the opposite of independence and it would probably be boring, too.
There is one precedent on which I should like to build. The convention is that the House of Commons nominates the retiring Speaker to come to the House of Lords. That is entirely free from prime ministerial patronage. I believe that that system could be extended, with Members of the House of Commons nominating and, if necessary, electing a limited number of distinguished parliamentarians for membership of the House of Lords. Some would never want to come here by patronage of a Prime Minister or a government-appointed quango. One obvious example is Tony Benn.
I see the problem of topping up the hereditary peerage as a real one. That is why I support Option 1A, as proposed by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig.
Proposals for Lords reform have once again raised more problems than they solve. I supported the last major reform, which was far simpler to implement and had a far clearer justification than this so-called "stage two". In practical terms, stage one never did need stage two. It is political baggage of outdated emotion and a profound and widespread misunderstanding of how this House operates. There is need for much more time for reflection, digestion and education. That point was made very tellingly by my noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, it is a particular pleasure for me to follow my noble friend Lord Marlesford. Decades ago, he and I worked very closely together to develop and introduce a range of Whitehall reforms, with some success, as the noble Lord, Lord Butler, was kind enough to mention in his speech. We also urged the introduction of departmental Select Committees in another place which would focus on the expenditure and activities of those departmentsa scheme eventually introduced, also with great success, by my noble friend Lord St John of Fawsley. Perhaps in those days we should also have turned our attention to the form of your Lordships' House, but I have to confess that, at that time, that did not seem very important to us.
As this debate winds to an end, I want to spend my few minutes on one central purpose; namely, to seek to refute yet again, as others have done, the over-simplified idea that doubling up on elected Chambersthat is, having two instead of onewould in any way strengthen our Parliament or enlarge our democracy.
I accept that a stronger Parliament must, indeed, be the aim of all democrats. But I believe that to try to achieve it by creating a second elected Chamber is utterly misguided. Many other noble Lords made that point. However, what seems to have been missedI have listened carefullyby the protagonists for elected Members, as the noble Lord, Lord Norton, reminded us yesterday in a devastating speech, is that the function of the House of Lords is different from, although complementary to, the function of the House of Commons, which is the elected Chamber. It is not only different but an essential prop to the workings of the whole democratic structure.
Although I have listened carefully, the election enthusiasts seem not to have grasped that a better democracy does not come from multiplying elected Chambers, votes, simple party choices and all the things that go with them. An elected Chamber must be the very heart of our democratic system, but round it must be the cladding of independent advice and restraint as well as, naturally, the rule of law, freedom
I am not an engineer, and there are probably expert engineers in your Lordships' Housethere are experts here in just about everythingbut I understand that the internal combustion engine must have a governor mechanism to prevent it going awry. I learnt at school that James Watt, in a moment of genius as he was walking across College Green in Glasgow, suddenly understood that a steam engine needed a condenser. In the same way, I believe that our democratic House of Commons, another place, must have a filtering, revising, improving, second-thoughts prompting Chamber attached to it if it is not to overheat and break down.
Incidentally, I do not take the same long-term pessimistic view as several noble Lords about another place. First, let it never be forgotten that it has changed enormously over the past 30 or 40 years. As I have mentioned, the Select Committees really have worked as we hoped. To begin with, people said that they would not; that they would be merely for idle hands and to keep people out of mischief, but they have been far more effective in calling our gigantic, sprawling executive to account. Many people in your Lordships' House would confirm that.
Secondly, we are supposed to be thinking a few years ahead, and yet everyone seems to assume that huge majorities of the present kind in the Commons are here for good. That is not so. We on this side know that huge majorities suddenly melt away. They do not last. The arithmetic changes. When that happens and suddenly the executive no longer has such certain control over the party and therefore over Parliament, and suddenly the majority can be in doubt, the whole atmosphere changes and makes the Commons far less of a rubber stamp and a much more exciting place.
We know that once party elections come roaring into this House, on their heels, inevitably, come increased party political control, tighter party lines, more opposition for the sake of opposition and all the other features which spell the bane of independence, the death knell of careful consultation and true accountability, and greatly increased subordination to the executive.
The case for elections has been made by several noble Lords on the grounds that, among other things, it will increase the territorial representative nature of the House of Lords; there will be not so many from the South and South East, bringing in the more robust views of northern England and the more distant regions. However, there is then the question of independence. We are told, "That is all right. The independence will be preserved by electing the Peers for so long that they can immediately disengage from the groups and interests which elected them freely in the first place". In other words, we are asked to swallow the absurd proposition that more representation means less, that everything will be for the best if the supposed representatives ignore those who elected them. They
There is then a worry about cronies and a packed Chamber. Certainly, we must have a more powerful independent commission, which would have much more say in who comes here. Many different formulae have been put forward today. I suspect that party elections would be far more prone to producing those who toe the party line and yes-men and women than an appointed House. That is especially so if they were elected through closed party lists.
Personally, I believe the cronies argument to be much exaggerated, and that my noble and learned friend Lord Howe, who introduced the debate so excellently, is right about that. The truth is that people who for years have served well a party or government often make the most effective and candid critics the moment they come here, or at least after a while. I can think of many excellent examples of noble Lords opposite and on this side whom I salute and who confirm that.
If we must have an elected element, then I hope that it will be as free from party organisations and machines as possible and that the elections will be indirect oras the Joint Committee report calls them"various", which is a very important word, and as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth rightly suggested in his excellent speech. There are many ways to approach this problem other than through the traditional patterns of election.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford is completely right to say that there are better ways of bringing better people into this Chamber. He was right, too, to say that the whole argument about an elected versus an appointed House is really rather an immature argument, which is out-of-date, misguided and even blinkered. It does not address the possibilities that now open out in a modern society.
Actually, the common sense route would be to recycle the 92 hereditary Peers, who are largely the worker bees here, as we know, as life Peers, as in Option 1A of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, which I would support. However, I expect that that is far too sensible a solution to be adopted. At least that way the stamp of party machines and executive domination will be held at bay and the authority of this House in performing its moderating and checking role will be preserved.
I read somewhere the frankly naive view that there would be more authority flowing to us and our activities if this House was,
I recognise that for the Commons party elections are the necessary way. But they are not sufficient. James Watt was right: the engine cylinder of elected Commons Members needs the cooling condenser of second thoughts if it is to work. That is how our job has evolved, and most objective and informed people agree that your Lordships do it fairly well. I do not think it is smug to say that; it is merely objective and true. Furthermore, we do it within existing powers and with the invaluable participation of professional leaders, scientists, military leaders, bishops and other spiritual leadersperhaps we need more of thoseand those with deep legislative experience.
Undermine all that, sweep these experienced minds into a corner, or away altogether and you end up not with more representation of the British people but much less; not with a stronger and more durable democracy but with a weaker one; not with a more respected Parliament but with a more derided one.
Years ago in another place when we were debating the case for setting up the Select Committees, I rather arrogantly and presumptuously described myself as "a Parliament man". I still am, which is why I do not want to see this Parliament of ours weakened by tabloid theories and shallow understanding of what democracy is really about and how it truly works in this nation.
Lord Dean of Harptree: My Lords, I am delighted to follow my noble friend and entirely agree with the points that he made. I also agree with the points made by my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew, who spoke of conversions. It has clearly emerged during the debate that several noble Lords who were attracted to the idea of elections have changed their minds.
There are three good reasons for opposing any elected Peers. I shall endeavour to avoid using arguments that have already been advanced. The first and obvious point is the possibility of conflict between the two Houses. At present, as the Joint Committee emphasised in its first report, your Lordships exercise self-restraint. In our revising role we frequently introduce amendments that we send to another place, asking another placewhich usually means the government of the dayto think again. But if another place insists on its original view, we usually accept that the elected House should prevail.
I doubt whether that self-restraint would operate with elected Peers, especially if they had been elected more recently than the Members of the House of Commons. Instead of harmony and self-restraint, we would have discord. That would not be good for Parliament and would weaken Parliament's authority in holding the Government to account. So an elected element would alter the character of your Lordships' Houseand not for the better.
The second point, to which reference has also been made, is that with elected Peers almost inevitably the party machines would take over. In those circumstances, the best people would not be sent here; nor would the electors be fired with enthusiasm to
So, almost inevitably, with election we would find that this Chamber would be less representative of the nation than it is at present. Furthermore, the independence on which we all pride ourselves, even those who take party Whips, would thereby be diminished. So again, the character of your Lordships' House would alterand not for the better.
The third point, which I do not think has been mentioned so far, is that the concept of self-regulation, on which we pride ourselves, would be fatally undermined. We govern ourselves. We do not have a Speaker; we do not need a Speaker. On the rare occasions when advice is required, the Leader of the House or the Government Whip on duty gives advice, which is immediately obeyed. If we had elected Members, I do not believe for a moment that they would be prepared to accept such self-discipline. Who can blame them? They would want to speak out for their constituents. So, almost inevitably, if we have elected Members we shall have to give power to keep order to the occupant of the Woolsack and the Chair.
Anyone who has served, as I have, as a Deputy Speaker in another place knows how difficult that job is. One has to balance allowing the Member to speak, sometimes vigorously, on behalf of his constituents on the one hand, with on the other ensuring that the rules of order and conventions of the House are observed. That is a difficult balance to strike. Once we abandoned self-regulation in the House, we would be in uncharted territory. That would be unfortunate.
Where are we going with all this? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that it would need a genius to resolve the issue. Given the enormous variety of views that has been expressednot only between parties but within themI doubt whether consensus is likely to emerge. History may well repeat itself. If it does, I can suggest a simple solution: we should offer life peerages to the hereditary Peers sitting in the House at the moment. There is a good precedent: we already have in our midst hereditary Peers who have accepted life peerages. I am not suggesting anything revolutionary or new; I merely suggest that there is a good recent precedent that we could follow. It is possible to say, without being in any way patronising, that our hereditary colleagues, in all parts of the House, have done a good job. They have added enormously to the functions of this place.
If that suggestion were to be followed, the Government could say that they had fulfilled their election commitment to get rid of the hereditary Peers. The rest of us could say that we had preserved continuity in a House that, in practice, works effectively. In such a complicated situation, a simple solution may be the best.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, as the last of four Bishops to speak in the debate, I suppose that my task is to summarise the position of these Benches. That is no easy task. Organising bishopsor even their corporate mindis like trying to herd cats. Nevertheless, there are common features in our approach to this important debate.
We speak with some diffidence, although bishops have participated in Parliament from the beginning, and perhaps even earlier. Indeed, one bishop helped form the thought patterns within which western democracies still operate: in the fourth century, Augustine of Hippo marked the use of the structures of the state in the advancement of the kingdom of Heaven. Eight hundred years later, Aquinas, influenced by classical ideasinterestingly, carried into the new Europe through Islamic culturetook Augustinian thinking forward. He developed a Christian idea of governance as being for the common good and bringing about a just public realm for all.
Aquinas's thinking is well illustrated in the prayer that the bishops are privileged to use in your Lordships' House every working day. The prayer reminds us of the core business of the House. I shall quote a phrase or two for the benefit of those who may not have heard it for some while:
But that was then and this is now, and although the bishops on this Bench would wish to continue to play a constructive part in the governance of our country, we hesitate to speak in a way which might seem like defensiveness or special pleading. I was therefore greatly touched by yesterday's speech by the noble Lord, Lord Winston. He said that the Prelates on the Spiritual Bench have lent an important element to the workings of our democracyin its moderation, its liberality, its espousal of true human values and its notion of ethics.
We are warned to beware when all speak well of us. But there is usually little danger of that. It is rather nice in today's world when occasionally someone speaks well of the presence of the Church. I am grateful for those words. The noble Lord, Lord Winston, said that it would be good to see some Muslim, Catholic and perhaps Jewish representation on the Spiritual Bench. Certainly in our earlier submissions we ourselves argued for a broadening of religious representation.
In his opening speech the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, stated that there are many questions not before the House at this time, including
Because of this, I feel that the earlier contribution of my noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford was significant. As we take part in this significant debate concerning the future of our own democratic institutions, the world is involved in issues of war and rumours of war, the struggle of ideologies for the mind and soul of humanity, issues of life and death, justice and peace. Religion, for good or ill, is at the heart of many of these struggles. It is just not possible to get inside the mindset of many of those locked in dispute without understanding something of the religious ideas and ideals which drive them. I believe that to risk removing such understanding from your Lordships' House would weaken and narrow this focus of governance.
My noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth pointed to the same dynamic in his local community. I have the privilege of being a co-chair of the Interfaith Network for Britain and Ireland. I know how in city after city councils of faiths have been formed during the past decade, which are now vital for community cohesion, particularly in times when international disputes could easily create rifts between people of faith in Britain. I believe that it is imperative for such a faith presence to be developed and strengthened in your Lordships' House. A Bench of bishops is not necessarily the only model, but to give attention to an appropriate parliamentary faith presence is no second order question.
Because we see the need for specialist representation from the world of religious faith and other disciplines, we have earlier argued for a largely appointed second Chamber. My noble friend the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Worcester, in his powerful speech yesterday, argued strongly for indirect elections from local government. Service in local government has often been the path along which eminent and influential Members of your Lordships' House have earlier travelled. Were the bishops' advice to be followed, that traditional path would be given formal shape and content.
I started my speech by indicating that harnessing bishops was like herding cats. I suspect that this bevy of Episcopal cats will find themselves heading for different options when they are finally put before us. But that, to its credit, has been the long tradition of the Bench of Bishops.
Lord Moran: My Lords, the report we have been debating seems to me clear, concise and sensible, and was introduced yesterday in an admirable speech by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon. The old House, which I entered in 1984, worked well but had one quite unacceptable defect: the overwhelming potential majority of one party. I am afraid that that partythe Conservativeswere foolish enough to use it in a shameful way on 14th July 1993 when they bussed in scores of backwoodsmen and defeated the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Blake, proposing a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, by 445 votes to 176.
That made early change inevitable. The position was rectified by the purge of most hereditary Peers in 1999. The political balance became much more reasonable and, essentially, this House was reformed. It is not now dominated by any party.
Most people agree that, while not seeking to be a law-making body, this House has an indispensable role in scrutinising and revising legislation, with its average of 2,000 amendments per Session nearly all accepted by the Commons. But in order to be effective with its limited powers, it must have, as the report stresses, strong elements of independence and expertise, as it has at present. There is, I believe, a need to keep the party-political aspects of the House to a minimum. The less political, the more useful is the work of the House. I have taken part in many Select Committees, and in all of them party prejudices were laid aside at the door. Peers took part as individuals, not party spokesmen, making the work far more effective.
It is important to preserve the present, specifically independent element in the House's composition; the Cross Benches. Apart from these, there are, happily, at present, very few Peers who blindly follow their party linethose of whom W S Gilbert wrote:
There are, however, independent-minded Peers in other parts of the House to whom the House listens and who it respects. One has only to think of the noble Baroness, Lady Mallalieu, the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and a number of others. If we had a fully elected House, or a substantially elected element, that would increase party-political influence and diminish or eliminate the independent element.
Moreover, most people wishing to stand would surely aim at the House of Commons, where power lies; or the European Parliament, where the pay is best; or the Scottish Parliament; or the Welsh Assembly. We might be landed with fourth-rate politicians. Paragraph 68 of the report states that domination of the House by elected party politicians would irrevocably change the nature of the House. It would do so for the worse.
I believe that the present House is effective, cheapone-tenth of the cost of the Commonswith a valuable independent outlook and a legitimacy as defined very sensibly in paragraph 43 of the report. To my mind, the best course is to keep things as they are.
Speaking as one of the doomed 92 residual hereditaries, I support what was said yesterday by my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley and my noble friend Lord Weatherill and I welcome the generous remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, at col. 652 in yesterday's Hansard. I believe that the House would be a much weaker place if it were to lose Members such as the noble Earls, Lord Ferrers, Lord Peel and Lord Selborne, the noble Countess, Lady Mar, the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, and the noble Lords, Lord Denham, Lord Willoughby de Broke, Lord Freyberg, Lord Bridges, Lord Elton and Lord Ampthill, to name only a few.
I believe that the arguments against a hybrid House are strong, and those against a wholly or partially elected House very strong indeed. Consequently, I propose to vote for Option 1, a wholly appointed House, with the safeguards proposed by the report, and for the option proposed by my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig, Option 1A, if that is possible, and against the other options.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, like one or two other noble Lords who have spoken, I was very ignorant of this place when I came here. I regret to say that I probably carried some caricatures in my mindof which, I am glad to say, I was fairly swiftly disabused. As a consequence, although I came here somewhat reluctantly in the first instance, I have found my time here extremely agreeable. The longer I have been here, the more impressed I have been by the way in which this House orders its affairs.
That does not mean to say that I believe that everything we do is perfect. There are a number of changes I would like to see made in our procedures. However, having said that, I have no wish whatever to repeat arguments that have been made much more cogently than I could have made them myself. Therefore, for the purposes of reference, I should like to say merely that I have been most impressed with the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and with that of the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor of Pulham Marketat least until the last 90 seconds when he seemed to suffer a mental breakdown in the middle of his remarks. But we can forgive him that. I would not have said it if he were not in his place, but I suggest that he reads his remarks tomorrow in Hansard.
As to this side of the House, I was extremely impressed yesterday by the remarks of my noble friend Lord Sewell and, today, by those of my noble friend Lord Elder, who is not in his place. I was glad to be present for the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, who I have known for more than 50 years. I was delighted to see that, for once, there were some Liberal Democrats who did not follow the party line of inbred political correctness.
Although I am speaking at No. 93 in the debate I have some things to say that have not been said before, but they are probably not for sensitive ears. I shall concentrate merely on attacking the proposals for an elected element of any kind. It will be no secret that I shall be voting for Option 1 and fervently against all the others. I believe firmly that the introduction of any elected element would be dangerous for this House, dangerous for the House of Commons, and extremely bad for the country.
As to all this talk about having a representative upper Chamberheavens to Betsygo and look at the other lot! If you ever thought that the current House of Commons is representative of the country as a whole, just go and study their CVs. I ask you. Representative? Well! The noble Lord knows who I am talking about anyway.
It is quite possible to achieve representativeness without elections. It is the fiat of every Prime Minister that he gets representativeness in his Cabinet without having elections to the Cabinetalthough one great mistake that the present Prime Minister has made is that he did not abandon the elected membership of his shadow Cabinet but took them as one into his present Cabinet, from which various consequences have flowed.
As to this House, it has been said that there is nothing wrong with hybridity; that we have had hybridity before. But what we are now contemplating is a hybridity of a kind different from any that has ever been seen before. It is inconceivable that elected Members of this place would not be granted pay, if not allowances, on a par with Members of another place. I do not know what that is currently£60,000 or £70,000 a year, or something of that orderbut, human nature being what it is, I do not believe that there would not be considerable resentment from those who are being paid nothing but an attendance allowance of £100 a day towards those who are doing the same work and being paid £60,000 or £70,000 a year. It would be extremely divisive and bad for morale in this place.
Resentment would also run in the other direction. If the elected Members formed less than 100 per cent of the membership, they would resent the appointed Members for diluting their claims to legitimacy. You would have nothing but continued resentment between the elected and the appointed Members.
My second point as regards the implications for this House is that, if the term is not limitedI understand the proposal of the Joint Committeeand Members can seek re-election, we shall be back to the tyranny of the Whips and the party machine.
I cannot see that an elected element of less than 100 per cent would produce a static situation. There would be constant pressure for the elected element to be increased to 100 per cent. What is more, there would be constant pressure to change the powers of this House. There was an interesting exchange yesterday between my noble friend Lord Sewel and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, whom I am glad to see in her place. I thought that my noble friend got the better of
I do not know what the end would be, but as has been stated vividly this House has huge powers. All we have to do is table amendments to every line of a Bill, or call a Division on every government amendmenton hundreds of government amendments on Bill after Bill. You would soon have the Chief Whip on his knees beside you asking you what you wanted. A message would go down to the other end of the corridor very quickly indeed. I frankly do not see what arguments the House of Commons could advance to sustain its monopoly of power over supply once this House had elected Members; and I do not see that the country could object to such a change.
Furthermore, if Members were elected to this place on the basis of identity with the method by which people are elected to the House of Commonsin other words, if only 300 Members were elected to this place, they would presumably be representative of the whole countrythey could say to every Member of the House of Commons, "I represent twice as many people as you do. Who the devil are you, Mr Jones, or Miss Smith? Thank you very much". The other place will not like that argument very much. Unless the elections are held on precisely the same day, in which case they will be otiose, as everyone can see, Members elected to this place will say to Members of the House of Commons, "Oh, you were elected two years ago. I was elected last Thursday. My public mandate is much more valid than yours". The House of Commons is not going to like that either.
There is a further unmentionable matter. If Members of this place are to serve for only one term, I can tell noble Lords how they will spend itthey will spend it undermining the lot down the corridor in order to get their seats when their term comes to an end; will they not? I know that I wouldbut then, I am not a very civilised individual!
All elections involve partyinexorably, inevitably. If we moved to a system of election by party, we should lose, among other things, the most distinguished Members on the Cross Benches. It was interesting to hear the noble Lord, Lord McNally, citing some of the expertise in certain areas to be found at the other end of the corridor. There was one area that he did not mentionone that I know a little bit about; namely,
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