Thursday, 26 April 2018

House of Lords: what Conservatives said then

Some selected views of the unelected house during the Lords Reform discussions of 2011:

Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con): I must confess that I think the House of Lords has done a pretty good job over the past 100 years, and I am glad that the Deputy Prime Minister [Nick Clegg] acknowledges that it does, indeed, do a good job.

Conor Burns (Bournemouth West) (Con): May I begin by saying to the Deputy Prime Minister, who concluded his remarks by saying that no one is in favour of the status quo, that I am in favour of the status quo, as I know many Conservative Members are?
Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con): A respectable case can be made that the House of Lords works well. In recent years, we have had the issues of 90 days’ detention, attacks on jury trials and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, which would have given Ministers the chance to overturn laws just by signing an order. On those occasions, the Lords came to the rescue of the country and did the right thing. It is an excellent revising Chamber and it does not try to rival what we do here. 
Andrew Griffiths (Con): The House of Lords is there to improve the legislation that we send to it. It is a revising Chamber. It is there to scrutinise the work that we do.
Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): The whole point is that in the upper House there are not only experts but people who can make changes to Bills that would be whipped out of existence if they were introduced in the lower House.
Mr Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con): I contend that what we have in the House of Lords is not so very bad. It reflects our history and traditions and I would have thought that, as Conservatives, that is what we are about. We are about preserving what is best in our history and I very much hope that as this debate proceeds to its final conclusion, there will be a blocking mechanism from the old left and the old right to throw this proposal into the dustbin of history, where I believe it belongs.
Mr David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds) (Con): We fumble with the rich and delicate texture of our constitution at our peril, and we should beware the law of unintended consequences.
Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con):  The House of Lords is an imperfect institution, as even its own Members concede. Its powers, composition and legitimacy have all come in for severe criticism over the years from different parts of the spectrum, but I am at a loss as to why anyone should want a Lords that was more party political, less expert and more expensive than it currently is. There is widespread public distrust in elected politicians, but this measure serves only to aggravate that distrust when we should be doing everything that we can to restore it.

- and now, after their Lordships have revised the EU Withdrawal Bill:

"BERNARD JENKIN Anti-Brexit Lords are pitting Parliament against the people" (The Sun, 21st April 2018)

(Conor Burns is a ministerial bag-carrier and Andrew Griffiths is now small business minister. Both presumably have to be diplomatic. Oliver Heald voted against the government in favour of giving parliament a final say on the terms of any deal with the EU27, so may be in sympathy with their lordships.)

Edward Leigh: Unelected peers voting against the people to keep us as half-in-half-out colony of the EU. Nein danke!

(David Ruffley had to resign the House in disgrace. I cannot yet find a reaction from Jesse Norman to the process in the Lords.)

Peers are "playing with fire" by trying to thwart Brexit and could end up "burning down" the House of Lords, Jacob Rees-Mogg has warned. (To be fair to Mr Rees-Mogg, in 2011 he felt that the HoL was already too powerful and his opposition to the Lords Reform Bill was because the Bill would make the Peers more powerful.)

More contributions are welcome - FHL

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