This evening we are to have a “dinner hour debate” to discuss the 2014 anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. At the time of writing there are 23 Peers on the Speakers List. Once the mover of the motion and the Minister replying have taken their allocation of some 20 minutes the rest of us will be lucky to get two minutes to cram in whatever we want to say about the calamitous results of unbridled nationalism in Europe a century ago.
Occasionally it is claimed that the House of Lords is “self-regulating”. This is patent nonsense. The Government and Labour Whips fix almost everything through the “Usual Channels.” If the interests of the whole House were paramount a way would be found to extend a debate like this, when so many Members on all sides wish to participate.
The Procedure Committee and Leader of the House are supposedly examining the merits of a new committee of Backbenchers who would allocate a little of the debating time of the House to reflect such interest. It is now nearly two years since the Goodlad Committee recommended something along these lines. Time for action perhaps?