» Thursday, March 1, 2007

House of Lords Reform

The Leader said that the votes would start at 5.30pm on March 7, following the approval of a Business motion earlier this week. Currently, there were nine motions before the House, and voting would take two-and-a-quarter hours if there were divisions on each of them. Although he could not be certain, he suspected that one or two of them might not be the subject of a division. It had also been agreed to suspend the Standing Orders which prevented inconsistent motions being put to the vote. That would mean that MPs would vote on each of the key propositions even if one had been carried already.

Asked about comments on his own voting intentions, the Leader said that, in an exchange during Business Questions earlier, he had confirmed that he would support a 50pc elected element of a reformed second chamber, and also 60pc and 80pc. Mr Straw said that he wanted to see a result. His preference, as spelt out in the recent White Paper, was for an evenly-balanced chamber between elected and appointed members. He would vote for that. However, since he was urging other MPs not "to make the best the enemy of the good", he also favoured that or a majority elected chamber. Thus, he would vote for the 60pc and 80pc options. Ministers would then have to make a judgement about the size of the majority on each – if indeed there was a majority. Mr Straw said he did not regard that position as inconsistent. He would be voting against a wholly-elected and wholly-appointed second chamber, as well as the options for a 20pc and 40pc elected element. Asked if he was attempting to set an example to the "purists", he agreed. He had been making the argument in favour of the alternative vote system (which had since been dropped) in that it would have enabled the House of Commons to come to a clear decision, and enable individuals to express preferences. His voting intentions would have been his preferences under an AV process. In the absence of the AV system, he was following the advice he was giving to others about not making "the best the enemy of the good".

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news

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