By Jonathan Isaby
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Later today I will provide a write-up of yesterday's debate in the Commons on the future of the House of Lords.
But one thing has immediately jumped off the page of Hansard at me which I thought I would share without further ado: During Conor Burns' speech, Labour MP Thomas Docherty intervened with the following nugget of information:
"Perhaps the hon. Gentleman is not aware that his noble Friend Lord Heseltine has not even made his maiden speech in the House of Lords. “Part-time” would not be a good adjective to describe him. Can the hon. Gentleman think of one?"
Burns replied as follows:
"I can think of many, and it is not often that I am accused of being on the same side as Lord Heseltine. I remember telling Lady Thatcher a couple of years ago that he had not made his maiden speech, having been in the Lords for nine years at the time. Her reply was, 'Well, look on the bright side, at least we haven’t had to listen to it'.”
"He says that he took his membership of the other place because he wanted the honour, but he did not want to participate. He has participated in fewer than 20 Divisions in the 10 years that he has been a Member of the other place. That was why I found it absolutely disgraceful that he came in the other night to vote against the referendum lock in the European Union Bill, which is going through the other place."
By Tim Montgomerie
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The House of Lords is becoming a problem. Inspired by such premier league Yellow B**tards as Lord Oakeshott the Upper House is overstepping its reforming, amending role and is in danger of becoming a roadblock to important Coalition reforms, including with respect to the NHS and elected police chiefs.
Yesterday, in alliance with pro-EU Conservatives, Liberal Democrat peers helped amend the European Union Bill to ensure that the referendum lock expired at the end of this parliament. The whole point of William Hague's referendum lock is that it ensures all future parliaments cannot make significant transfers of future powers to the EU without the consent of the British people. The usefulness of the lock had already been questioned by Eurosceptics and it looks much more vulnerable today.
The anti-Hague amendment was passed by just 209 to 203 votes. Among the 209 were the biggest beasts of the pro-EU Tory years, including Leon Brittan, Lord Debden (formerly John Gummer), Lord Heseltine, Baroness Howe, and Lord Jopling. They were joined by many Labour peers but also Liberal Democrats including Lord Oakeshott, Baroness Williams, Lord Maclennan and Lord Steel.
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