Extension of Franchise (House of Lords) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Leader of the House
2nd reading & 2nd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 2nd reading (Hansard)
Friday 7th February 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Flather Portrait Baroness Flather (CB)
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My Lords, I make no apology for saying that I feel personally deprived. That is the feeling that I get from other noble Lords: we all feel personally deprived. I cannot say that I have had a burning desire to vote in every general election, but in the two most recent elections I wanted to vote because some very big issues were presented to us. However, we had no vote.

The noble Lord, Lord Adonis, said that no one has asked him whether he has a vote. It is not that people come up to you and ask, but when you talk to them it comes out and they are absolutely taken aback that we have no vote. It is not that they think, “Oh well, you shouldn’t have a vote because you have a place in Parliament”; they ask, “Why do you not have a vote? Are you not capable of voting sensibly? Have you committed some terrible crime? Are you too mentally disabled to vote?” It is just ridiculous to think that we have to look back to previous centuries, to the Lords who have brought us to this stage. I totally support this little matter being looked at carefully.

There is really no logic to why a mere 900 people cannot vote. It is not as if we are 9 million, or even 9,000. We cannot change anything in the election. Most of us would probably vote for the sitting MP in our area—if that MP was good enough, that is, otherwise we would not—or along party lines. We all have our own views on who we would vote for. It is not as though 900 votes would go to one person and make a difference in their life. My sitting MP is Theresa May and, if I had the vote, I should certainly vote for her because she is extremely popular and a good constituency MP. That is how it goes. It is not as though we are going to change the world. Nine hundred people cannot change the world in any way. I do not know what we could do to change the world; if anyone has an idea, please let me know because I will join them.

Seriously speaking, to my way of thinking, it is completely illogical that we do not have a vote. A lot has been said about various Acts of Parliament from 100, 200 or 300 years ago. As has been said, if we had not made changes, where would we have been with those Acts? We would not have functioned at all. In any case, if life Peers had not come, there would be no House of Lords. I think it would have started by removing the life Peers and then removing the women. The best way to start would be with a new House of Lords.

I totally support the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, which says that we should get the vote.