The news headlines have been dominated by House of Lords reform as the House of Commons began to discuss the Lords Reform Bill, culminating in a vote to move the Bill to the next stage on Tuesday night.
I am in favour of the proposed reforms as I am confident they will allow for enhanced scrutiny of the Government and revision of legislation. At the moment, appointments to the Lords are primarily on the basis of close relationship with the main party leaders, rather than success at the ballot box.
I think there is a great deal of wisdom in the electorate, and have confidence that voters would elect members who are properly motivated to provide robust scrutiny.
Independent experts who would not be likely to stand for election – but who the public value deeply – would still be included in the upper chamber as 20 per cent of a reformed House would be appointed by an independent commission.
I am not concerned that a reformed upper House would challenge the House of Commons as the primary chamber – the careful calibration of election timing and the existing provisions in the Parliament Acts would ensure that the will of the Commons would not ultimately be frustrated by the Lords.
I am pleased that the Bill has moved on to its next stage and look forward to debate on the Bill resuming in the autumn.
Tuesday’s debate went on late into the evening – but I had a particularly short night in order to be up at 4.30am to travel back to attend the business breakfast at Hudson’s Field as the Olympic torch passes through Salisbury. I was able to head back up to Westminster in time for Prime Minister’s Questions at noon.
Today I will be following up on my recent question to the Secretary of State for Defence, as he appears before the Defence Select Committee. I want to understand the effect that the announcements regarding the reorganisation of the army as part of Future Force 2020 will have on the ground, ensuring that there will be no loss of capability.