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House of Lords Reform: Westminster Hall Debate

As you will know, I have long campaigned for the hereditary principle to be abolished in our democracy.

Last week in the by-election following the death of Lord Lyell, 346 valid votes were cast. All current members of the House who have taken the oath, 803 in total, were edible to vote.

On the first count, of the 27 candidates, 26 received one or more first-preference votes. After 25 transfers of votes, the votes for final two candidates were:

Lord Bethell 108
Lord Colgrain 143

Lord Colgrain now gets a seat in our Parliament for life on a turnout of just 43%, bearing in mind the electorate are supposed to be political people so you would think would bother to vote. That means that he won the vote with only 17% of the potential electorate. That is a ridiculous situation.

This is now the 5th by-election to be held in the House of Lords since the 2015 General Election.

I have always voted to reform or abolish the House of Lords as I see it as a hangover of a time and place that no longer exists within the UK. But I feel the removal of hereditary peers is a step we could all agree with and then continue with further reform as the next course of action.

During my Westminster Hall debate I urged the Government to adopt either one of two routes to reform, both are printed as Bills and can be easily adopted.

The first is to adopt Lord Grocott’s Bill which would see no further by-elections taking place. This would mean that when a hereditary peer retired or sadly died their seat would not be refilled.

Or the Government could adopt my approach. This would see no further by-elections take place, but also a sunset clause whereby all hereditary peers would be ejected from the House on the 31 December 2019.

The Minister decided to continue to support the hereditary principle instead of the open, transparent and democratic principle which our Parliament should be based upon.

You can read the full debate here as well as watching the video above.