End of Term

Baroness Murphy

I have rarely heard such a disgruntled debate as last night on the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. Lord Norton has already given the background in his blog of 22 March and was on fine form in the chamber.

Baroness Boothroyd

Lady Boothroyd, the former Speaker of the Commons, not normally given to hyperbole except in her gorgeous jewellery, spoke for the general mood when she said  “I cannot remember a more flagrant example of the mismanagement of an important constitutional Bill during my time in public life”. A portfolio of generally supported and uncontentious matters such as putting the civil service on a statutory footing (which seems to have escaped attention for the past 150yrs) and procedures for ratifying treaties was thrown in with a number of changes to the House of Lords, notably ending by-elections for elected hereditaries, retirement and giving up life peerages (the ‘Mandelson’ clause) amongst others. It will all tumble into the ‘washing up machine’ to be haggled over by party leaders in a secret, undemocratic fashion in the last few days of the parliament. Anyone can table amendments at ‘wash-up’ committee stages but the reality is the parties will trade in private and backbenchers won’t have any say. An unseemly process to say the least. To be honest I think it’s time for this crossbencher to get off Lord Teverson’s Spaceship Westminster and boldly go to Italy for a break while all this madness is going on. Next blog from Lucca…

14 comments for “End of Term

  1. Carl.H
    25/03/2010 at 6:15 pm

    I watched most of debate and was impressed by many of the speakers, the Lord Bishop and Lord Norton stating the case emphatically.

    I am worried, seriously worried – this may change the make-up of Parliament for the next 500 years or so and it is to be decided in a virtually unscrutinised, undemocratic, unparliamentary way.

    If I could, I would ask the Conservative and Liberal frontbenchers not to give any credence to this Bill at all simply because of the way it has been handled by the Government.This has not been shoddy workmanship, it is a disgrace and I believe it deliberately so.

    I can do nothing but sit and watch, forgetting about the Digital Economy Bill which was ever so important to me, whilst the Constitution of my Country is put through a detrimental process called the wash-up. I can only hope the leaders and whips of the opposition protest loudly in my name and state clearly we will play no part in this monumental botched bill which appears to have been deliberately sneaked in with only thought of the wash-up.

    • Gareth Howell
      25/03/2010 at 7:40 pm

      I scanned the Sections of the bill a few weeks ago.

      “putting the civil service on a statutory footing (which seems to have escaped attention for the past 150yrs) and procedures for ratifying treaties”

      My respect for the civil service and its principles will not, now, just be starting
      on account of new statutory footing; they’ve always been like that, so one wonders if it is a necessary part of the Bill at all.

      The meaning of the word “treaty” is not something we are new to, either.

  2. Chris K
    25/03/2010 at 7:22 pm

    I am now of the opinion that constitutional reform shouldn’t belong to any one Parliament/government.

    Wales was given a referendum on the creation of an Assembly.
    Scotland was given a referendum on the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
    The “North East” was given a referendum on some sort of devolution.

    And yet this government thought nothing of removing nigh on 1000 legislators from our Parliament, and all but abolishing the post of Lord Chancellor. The House of Lords doesn’t even register on their meter.

    And they’re still not finished. Still trying to tinker right to the end. Their arrogance is amazing.

    This bill may be small potatoes, but it’s only a matter of time before a new government thinks our centuries-old constitution is its to destroy.

  3. Bedd Gelert
    26/03/2010 at 11:09 am

    I would be interested to know the views in general of the blogging Lords of this ‘rebalancing’ exercise…


  4. baronessmurphy
    26/03/2010 at 12:12 pm

    Senex, Thank you so much for this excerpt and the ones you added to Lord Norton’s recent blog. Curiously the debate looked better tempered second time round. I think it’s the muting effect of effect of recording.
    I tend to agree with all the comments made here, I find it extraordinary that this Governemnt should still be introducing new bills. There is another coming up on Monday for second reading, yet another overly repressive crime and security bill, much of which is in need of serious amendment, but won’t get any time given to it at all.

  5. baronessmurphy
    26/03/2010 at 12:13 pm

    And the Hansard Society is adding a spellcheck to our revamped blog site, hooray!

  6. Bedd Gelert
    26/03/2010 at 3:57 pm

    Talking of ‘end of term’ and the dissolution..


    Well, one must be grateful for small mercies..

    • Gareth Howell
      27/03/2010 at 9:17 am

      “boldly go to Italy for a break while all this madness is going on. Next blog from Lucca…”

      The noble baroness will be amazed at the flower on the Olives after her successful Wassailing in early January!

      I am just praying for a few days of warm for our own fruit tree flower pollination, which will be quite late.

      Not a daffodil out here until 3 weeks after St David’s day must be a record of some sort.
      A winter flowering jasmine at my front door
      which flowers in jan, flowered 1 week ago.

      Please will the noble Baroness issue a Bill to hasten the arrival of Spring before she leaves?

      With respect to Charity fund raisers the lateness of the daffodils may have been a punishment for selling plastic ones for a donation, and bring roses from Kenya while the masses in Mombasa/Nairobi starve in shanty towns.

      Perhaps a clause of the Bill could deal with that too?

    • Twm O'r Nant
      27/03/2010 at 3:52 pm

      From one Welshman to another

      ” Given Blair’s own brush with the ‘cash for honours’ ”

      According to my scenario that is precisely what would happen; a membership fee for those keen enough to join, and an election fee refund for those who lose their election to the Lords.

      The buildings would at least not be wasted by keeping it as a club.

      Paul Waugh and Alexander Chancellor are not related as far as I know; the name Waugh in that case is quite co-incidental, although the two illustrious names are connected.

  7. Bedd Gelert
    26/03/2010 at 6:00 pm

    And rather surprisingly Michael White is quite pleased that Lord Mandelson has put the kibosh on Lords Reform..


  8. Twm O'r Nant
    29/03/2010 at 3:07 pm

    The more power that the HofC acquires for itself, the more the “estate proprietors” will become attracted to that chamber, in their names Mr.or Mrs. instead of in their hereditary titles,in the Lords, which have been useless for the last few years.

  9. David Fredin
    29/03/2010 at 3:08 pm

    Dear Baroness Boothroyd
    I have some of my roots in Scotland. Inspite of my surname, and country of birth, Sweden I care greatly about Great Britain. The undemocratic fashion You speak about has also anohter name for i; socialism. HM Goverment continue the class-struggle in spite of abandoning a marxist economy. It’s time to speak the truth here. They are people within the Labour with a “disease”, and they have to be defeated with those that went along with them. And it’s time the repressentatives in the Lord’s openly told the public the truth. That a system with hereditary Lords better cling to democratic values, because it’s not depending on the form but the mind.

  10. 10/04/2010 at 2:48 pm

    nice post. thanks.

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