» Thursday, November 30, 2006

House of Lords reform

Asked about the latest progress, the Leader said that the Joint Committee on Conventions had just reported. Ministers were now at the point of internal agreement on a Government response to that report, and hoped to publish it before Christmas. The plan then was for a debate on it, initially, in the House of Lords. Part of the decision would be to agree a Message to the Commons of what they thought about the report, on which the Commons would then come to an agreement.

If all went according to plan, conclusions by both Houses on the Joint Committee’s report would be very important as it would define the relationships between them. Mr Straw said that, meanwhile, discussions were continuing within the cross-party group, which he chairs. In parallel with that, work was also taking place on a White Paper, which would not be published before Christmas. The Leader said that he hoped it would be made public soon after Christmas and then there would be a period of consultation and a free vote. He had thought previously that it might have been possible to merge the Government’s response to the Joint Committee with the White Paper, but for a variety of reasons it had appeared better and cleaner to do so separately.

Asked to comment on a BBC report which suggested that there may be a redundancy package for peers who retired from the House, the Leader said he thought it was rather overdoing the idea. He acknowledged that some people had suggested such a course, but he wanted to make it clear that there was no decision that it would find its way into any Government proposal. Asked about the atmosphere in the cross-party discussions, he said it was fine but declined to go into further detail at present.

Briefing took place at 16:00 | Search for related news

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