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Guess how many members of the public have responded to the House of Lords reform White Paper - 10,000? 100,000?

By Matthew Barrett
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STRATHCLYDELord Strathclyde, the Leader of the House of Lords, was asked yesterday how many representations from the public on the House of Lords reform White Paper had been received. 

He was first asked by Labour peer Lord Grocott - Lord Strathclyde answered in a dry tone, and managed to suppress laughter when speaking:

"Lord Grocott: Have the Government still not learnt the lesson of the AV referendum? Unlike the Deputy Prime Minister, the British public do not think that our constitution is broken and they think that Government should spend their time on other, more important matters. Can I suggest that before the Government embark on any future constitutional experiments they apply two tests? First, do the public want it? Secondly, is there a political consensus to deliver it?

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, it is true that the Government have not been overwhelmed with responses from the public after the publication of the White Paper. However, at least one interpretation of that is that the public are reasonably satisfied with the proposals that the Government have put forward."

The House was united in laughter.

When pressed again by another Labour peer, Lord Hughes, Lord Strathclyde revealed the widespread public interest in Lords reform:

"Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, why is the Leader of the House so reticent about telling us how many representations he has actually had? He said many-is that 10, 20, 100, 500, 1,000?

Lord Strathclyde: Since the general election, we have received over 180 letters from members of the public."

The House sounded their mock amazement at the number. Lord Strathclyde continued:

"Since the publication of the White Paper, we have received over 30 pieces of correspondence."

The House erupted.

Strathclyde did point out, however, that the "vast majority" of the "over 30" letters were in favour of reform!

"The key point is that the vast majority of these letters call for a change in the way that this House is run."

Read the full session on the Hansard website.


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