Fifth Report Of Session
2010-12 From The Procedure Committee|
Members leaving the House
1. The report of the Leader's Group on Members
Leaving the House was published on 13 January 2011.
The Group made a number of recommendations, both on strengthening
the existing leave of absence scheme, and on the introduction
of a scheme of "voluntary retirement" from the House.
2. On the same day as the report was published,
the Leader of the House made the following Written Ministerial
"I have today published the report of the Leader's
Group on Members Leaving the House. The group, chaired by Lord
Hunt of Wirral, was set up in July 2010 to look into ways to identify
options for allowing Members to leave the House of Lords permanently.
The report proposes a number of sensible and business-like
steps that the House can take forwardwithout recourse to
legislationto enable Members to step down from participation.
The report also endorses the Government's view that any such moves
should not create additional costs to the taxpayer.
I intend to act quickly to take forward the group's
key recommendations. I will therefore ask the Procedure Committee
to come forward with proposals that can be put to the House so
that: arrangements for leave of absence are immediately strengthened
in order to encourage those who, for whatever reason, are unable
to play a full part in the work of the House, to step down from
active membership; and a scheme is established to allow Members
to give notice of their intention to retire from membership of
the House permanently on a voluntary basis."
3. This report accordingly brings forward proposals
to implement the recommendations of the Leader's Group. We have
not re-examined the issues underlying the Group's findings; instead
we have translated the Group's recommendations into text that
will, if agreed by the House, be included in future editions of
the Companion to the Standing Orders (see Appendix 1).
For comparison, the current Companion text on leave of
absence is given in Appendix 2.
4. We have also proposed amendments to Standing
Order 22 on leave of absence (see Appendix 3). These amendments
do not refer to voluntary retirement, which, as the Leader's Group
described it, would be an informal scheme, designed to allow any
member to "give notice of his or her wish permanently to
leave the membership of the House."
6. We have not considered those elements of the
Leader's Group's recommendations, such as provision to override
the entitlement to a Writ of Summons, a scheme of "associate
membership", or extension of the parliamentary franchise
to retired Members,
which would require primary legislation. Nor have we considered
the financial aspects of any scheme for voluntary retirement,
which, were the House to agree to this report, would be a matter
for the House Committee. In other words, what we propose is only
the outline of what may in due course become a more formal and
detailed scheme. Nevertheless, we believe that the proposals set
out in the Appendices to this report are workable, and represent
an important step forward for the House.
7. We invite the House to agree the changes
to the leave of absence scheme, the proposed scheme for voluntary
retirement, and the amendments to Standing Order 22, set out in
Appendices 1 to 3 of this report.
8. If this report is agreed to, the proposed
scheme for voluntary retirement will come into effect immediately.
If the House agrees the amendments to Standing Order 22, the extension
of the notice period for termination of leave of absence, from
one to three months, will also take effect immediately. The new
arrangements whereby the Clerk of the Parliaments writes to Members
who attend the House very infrequently will in practice be implemented
with effect from the start of the next session, in spring 2012.
1 HL Paper 83. The Group's Interim Report (HL Paper
48) had previously been debated in the House, on 16 November 2010
(HL Deb., cols 673-711). The Group was chaired by Lord Hunt of
Wirral; the remaining members were Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton,
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Baroness Murphy, Baroness Scott of Needham
Market and Baroness Sharples. Back
HL Deb., 13 January 2011, WS 207-208. Back
Report of the Leader's Group on Members Leaving the House, paragraph
Ibid., paragraphs 31, 43 and 60. Back