A View from Parliament: The John Howell column – July

John Howell

John Howell

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House of Lords reform is not just a Westminster village issue it is part of the need to reform our broken politics.

Of those locally who wrote to me about it (including from Thame), 88% were pro reform as was I. So what was all the fuss about? House of Lords reform was part of the manifesto on which I stood in 2010. In addition, in 2007, the House of Commons voted for a substantially elected Upper House following the botched Blair reforms. It would have been perverse to ignore that vote.

The simple fact is that 75% of members of the House of Lords have been appointed by just five people.

That they should have influence over our legislation is itself perverse. So too is the idea that the House of Lords is less ‘tainted’ by party politics. One of the most frequent past professions of Peers is having been an MP.

So an elected House of Lords is not suddenly going to be full of ‘politicians’; that is exactly the case now.

Some suggested there are more important things for Parliament to be doing and that the Government cannot multitask.

But, in the Second World War, while the priority was defeating Hitler, it did not stop the Government setting the agenda for the welfare state, social security, the NHS, education and housing. Equally, this Government too has already undertaken substantial constitutional reform including the referendum lock on powers being transferred to Brussels.

We are already concentrating on making Britain the best place in which to do business and focussing on reforms which are on the side of people who work hard and want to get on in. But political reform is essential too and reform of the House of Lords fits squarely with what we promised.