On Wednesday, I attended the Opposition Day Debate on House of Lords reform.
As many of you will know, I recently proposed a Ten Minute Rule Bill that sought to abolish the Hereditary Peers, in the House of Lords my Bill is being replicated by Lord Grocott.
I took this opportunity to argue once again for reform of the Lords. I understand that there is not widespread agreement on what action to take. That is why I proposed three simple steps that would bring about the democratisation people are calling out for in Parliament.
The first proposal was the abolition of hereditary peers. It is plainly wrong that people get to sit in our Parliament and set laws for no other reason other than an accident of birth.
My second suggestion is not to fill vacancies until the size of the House of Lords gets down to that of the House of Commons. What is wrong with that? I want massive change—I have voted to abolish the Lords—but in the absence of consensus, let us look at how we can reduce the number of Members over time. That is perfectly reasonable.
The third suggestion may be revolutionary, but it is an attempt to find a compromise. I agree with the Government that Members of Parliament should represent equal numbers of constituents. Let us do that, but let us keep 650 MPs and have a boundary review on that basis, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wansbeck said. In my part of the world, Wales, we would lose seats under such a review—we have 55,000 to 60,000 electors in each constituency—but we would have the same number of constituents and reasonable representation. But, no, this Government are seeking to reduce the representation from 650 to 600 Members, while in previous 18 months the former Prime Minister appointed 132 peers to the House of Lords.
Once again the Government voted down any chance of reform of the Lords 278 to 245.