Just before Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday was Cabinet Office Questions. The Cabinet Office is responsible for the day to day running of the Civil Service and also for constitutional reform.
I asked the Cabinet Office Minister, Ben Gummer MP, if he thought it was right that the Government is reducing the size of the House of Commons by 50 MPs, but there are still nearly 100 Lords who owe their place in parliament for no other reason than patronage in the Middle Ages.
The Minister responded that it was “not for me to revisit the arguments of the House of Lords here.” He works in the Department responsible for constitutional reform so I believe it definitely was for him to “revisit the arguments”. The Government talks about having efficient and effective public institutions, yet when it comes to the House of Lords they like nothing better than to make it grow and undermine its legitimacy.
As you may know, recently I introduced a House of Lords Reform Bill which sought to remove the hereditary principle from our democracy once and for all. The Government failed to take up my advice and are stubbornly refusing to investigate any reform.
At the end of this month the Government will publish the draft Boundary Review document. This is being published as part the nationwide redrawing of the boundaries for UK Parliamentary constituencies. All constituencies will have to have a population of around 75,000. When the House of Commons is being consolidated I believe it is only right for the Lords to face a similar future.