26 May 2016
The House of Lords was given a final chance to reform itself today (26 May) when a private member's Bill was introduced by the Green peer Jenny Jones.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, who will now concentrate solely on her Lords work after standing down from the London Assembly after 16 years of service, wants the chamber to agree on its own reform rather than having legislation imposed by the Commons.
Jones believes her Bill will gives the Lords a final opportunity to seize the initiative and obtain the best possible deal for itself, while winning reform that meets the requirements of democracy and retains the best features of the present system.
Baroness Jones said:
“It is undoubtedly right that people of great distinction should be able to contribute to the national debate by speaking in the Lords, and my Bill would allow that to continue. Since being in the House, one thing which has impressed me enormously is the huge wealth of experience and expertise which its members possess. Whatever subject we may be debating, whether it's the NHS or preserved steam railways or the history and politics of Turkmenistan or Botswana, or anything else you care to mention, there will be someone there with expert knowledge. It would be a tragedy for Parliament to lose that.
“However, the overriding principle must be that the people who make our laws should be democratically elected, rather than appointed. My Bill allows us to make that necessary and inevitable reform, without losing the best features of the Lords as it is now.
“Some people have said that my Bill cannot succeed because it is like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas. If I may use the analogy without disrespect to my noble colleagues, the point is that Christmas is still coming whether the Lords votes for it or not; what I am offering them is a chance to vote for a vegetarian Christmas.”