CABINET OFFICE – HOUSE OF LORDS REFORM – 10 July 2012
[Ian Austin: If all three manifestos proposed House of Lords reform and the electorate had no choice, does that not strengthen the case for a referendum, rather than diminish it?
The Shadow Leader of the House of Commons (Angela Eagle): All Labour Members stood on a manifesto that promised a referendum, and my hon. Friend makes an extremely good point.]
Dr Julian Lewis: I support the point made by the hon. Member for Dudley North (Ian Austin). I was first elected to this House in 1997, when the question of replacing the pound with the single European currency was active. The Government and the Opposition said, “Wait and see – we'll let you know after the election whether we'll keep our own currency,” while the Liberal Democrats said that they were going to scrap it and replace it with the euro. The electorate had no choice on that matter. I think that everyone agrees today that there should have been a referendum if there had been such a proposal.
[Ms Eagle: We had a triple lock on that issue.]
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[Stephen Lloyd: It is a privilege to speak in this debate. I am a new MP; I have been in the House for only two years. Yesterday, I sat for a number of hours listening to the various speeches, and I found some of them quite surreal. As I understand it, there is a majority in this House who support House of Lords reform. The three political parties have had it in their manifestos for many years – or for ever, in the case of the Liberals – but I genuinely found some of the speeches in yesterday's debate surreal. Reflecting on some of the contributions of my colleagues on the Government Benches, I noted that a number of them who spoke so actively, nay aggressively, against democratising the other place happen to be very Eurosceptic. Over the last couple of years or so, I have often heard them express their loathing of the European Union as an institution, usually by saying that it is undemocratic, unaccountable and thrives on patronage. Curiously, however, many of them spoke yesterday about how much they loved the House of Lords. I found that surreal.]
Dr Lewis: On that very point, when the power of the European Union and its institutions is reduced to the low level of the power of the House of Lords, a lot of us Eurosceptics will be very happy indeed.
[Stephen Lloyd: I look forward to that day because it will mean that the hon. Gentleman will be supporting the democratisation of our Parliament, which I think is a good thing. ... ]
[NOTE: For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]