House Of Lords: Appointments System

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 19th July 2023

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend makes a very important point. I certainly will pass on that message, as indeed others that I have referred to. I think the whole House looks with the most enormous admiration and respect at—and gains tremendously from the presence of—those who have the kind of lived experience that my noble friend refers to.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the Leader said that the Government would take note of the report. Would he go rather further and look at it? It is cogent and carefully argued. If there is not time for legislation, there is time and opportunity for the Prime Minister to take action on issues that the public object to—not the work that this House does, but the size of the House and the method of appointment. The Prime Minister could limit the number of appointments and he could say that the Appointments Commission should look at the suitability and ability to contribute of Members who are nominated by the political parties, as it does for those who are nominated to the Cross Benches.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, on the size of the House, since January 2022 it has in fact grown by four—plus seven net Conservatives and plus three net Labour. I understand that many noble Lords are agitated about the size of the House. However, I sometimes wish that the House would concentrate on extolling the great and good things that your Lordships do every day and the challenge that your Lordships give to the Government to improve legislation, and not concentrate so much on running down the House. I am not accusing the noble Baroness of that, but the reality is that we have just had in this House one of the most contested pieces of legislation, where 417 Peers voted.

COP 27

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Tuesday 15th November 2022

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, I declare my interest as co-chair of Peers for the Planet. The Minister said that he could not comment in detail on onshore wind because of potential budgetary considerations. I am not sure that his reticence is necessary. The issue here is a planning one, not a budgetary one. There is currently a moratorium on new onshore wind and the replacement of existing onshore wind. The not-much-missed growth Statement said that the Government would lift the moratorium and bring in normal planning considerations for new onshore developments. We have now heard that that is in doubt. Given the need for more renewable energy in future, is it in doubt or will the statement that we will revert to proper planning procedures be maintained?

My other question is global. Many of the vulnerable countries to which the noble Lord referred are very indebted countries, and as well as trying to meet the costs of adaptation and sustainable energy, they are meeting the costs of debt repayment. The ex-President of the Maldives put forward the suggestion of a debt swap so that, in future, those debts could be used for sustainable projects in developing countries. Would the Minister give me an answer on that?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I am sorry if noble Lords thought that I was being too reticent by not straying into some areas. We have a wide-ranging Statement about to be made, and I would not want the House to draw any conclusion from what I say or do not say. What your Lordships must understand is that this is a difficult time. There has been a lot of criticism of this Government’s commitment to renewables, but I underline that we have achieved a fourfold increase in renewable use since 2011. Renewables now make up 40% of our electricity supply—something that, in 2010, Mr Ed Miliband said was a pie-in-the-sky idea. That pie has come down from the sky, but we do need to make it larger and I will listen to the point that the noble Baroness made.

On wind, more than £1 billion of government investment is already boosting our offshore wind sector, and major port and manufacturing infrastructure, and safeguarding many jobs. The Hornsea wind farm—it is offshore, I concede—has lately come onstream, and it is one of the largest that exists. As to debt, I cannot be specific about that, but I will take away and pass on what the noble Baroness said. We are obviously conscious that there are specific nations with specific problems; for example, some of the small islands are nations that we are particularly concerned to address in a specific way.

House of Lords: Appointments

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 18th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, it is my habit and pleasure always to talk to Members of your Lordships’ House, and that would certainly include my noble friend Lord Norton of Louth. If his Bill comes forward then I will certainly respond to it, but the Government have no plans to change the status of HOLAC. We do not agree that it should be placed on a statutory basis. It is an independent committee, and we consider its advice carefully.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, in his carefully-worded reply earlier, the Minister suggested that the present Prime Minister and the previous one were absolutely at one about not imposing a cap on the size of the House. However, is it not true that in fact they take diametrically different positions on reducing the size of the House, and that the previous Prime Minister, implementing the policy set out in the Conservative Party manifesto to reduce the size of the House, took a self-denying ordinance and helped to take forward the Burns review proposals, which has absolutely been turned on its head by the present Prime Minister?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, with respect, I do not agree that if one looks at the historical record one finds that this Prime Minister has appointed Peers at a rate that is, say, faster than that of Mr Tony Blair. I think it is agreed in this House, and it is implicit in some of the comments made by your Lordships with which I agree, that retirement has a place in your Lordships’ House. The corollary of that is that the House also needs refreshment, and that must continue.

Restoration and Renewal: Location of House of Lords Chamber

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Monday 16th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, again, I am being invited to stray into questions of parliamentary management, which is not appropriate for a government Minister. However, as always, my noble friend makes a very sensible point on these matters. There are always ways of arranging necessary work.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister would be kind enough to suggest to the Secretary of State, if he is interested in the public response to your Lordships’ House and its work, that he might be better directed at looking at a programme that reduced the size of this House and at a statutory Appointments Commission, putting a rein on the use by the current Prime Minister of patronage in appointments.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, again, the noble Baroness strays slightly from the Question. On the last point, I only say that in a Session following the Session in which there was a record number of defeats for Her Majesty’s Government, it would be surprising if the Government did not reflect on the significance of that.

House of Lords: Appointments

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Monday 24th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, the House of Lords Appointments Commission performs an important role but, as I have told the House before, there are no current plans to alter its remit. Following the opening Question from the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, one thing I think we could agree on is that the Liberal Democrats are at least very well represented in this House—I do not use the term “overrepresented”, preferred by my noble friend behind me.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister said that neither this Prime Minister nor his predecessors had committed themselves to implementing the Burns report. That, of course, is factually accurate, but what the right honourable Member Theresa May did do was exercise discretion in the number of appointments that she made to take forward what was then an approved government policy of reducing numbers in this House. Do we not need to get back to that situation?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, the House today is much smaller than when I first came to work in it in 1997. I think your Lordships’ House works well and should perhaps agonise a little less on these matters. So far as these matters are concerned, another factor is the number of defeats inflicted on the Government. Frankly, they have not been in short supply lately, which does not suggest that there is a great imbalance.

Hereditary Peers: By-elections

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 10th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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I am certainly not going to comment on my sense of humour. What I would say is that I always take your Lordships’ House seriously. If that is mistaken for not having a sense of humour, then I plead guilty. I believe that I have answered the noble Lord’s question. The arrangements subsist under statute and agreement until such time as there is agreement not only in your Lordships’ House but across the country and in the other place as to the future nature of this House.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the work of this House, as shown on the Environment Bill this week, is greatly valued and respected, but we lose that respect because of the deep and profound concerns about the size of the House and the way in which people get here. Will the Government finally acknowledge that we need restraint and effective scrutiny on political appointments and that we need to end the farce of hereditary Peer by-elections?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, I believe that I have answered the last question from the noble Baroness. People get here in many ways, the majority by patronage through nomination by one individual who happens to be the Prime Minister of the time. I respect everyone in this Chamber, however they got here. Indeed, some get here by being right reverend Prelates. We should concentrate on doing our work well and publicising our discontents a little less.

House of Lords Reform

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 30th June 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, as we look forward, clearly that is an option for considering reform. I do not note enormous enthusiasm for that in the many debates in your Lordships’ Chamber. My noble friend is absolutely right to say that everybody opposite campaigned in 2019 on the creation of an elected senate.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister is scathing about piecemeal reforms, but I would have thought that, this week in particular, the Government would be sensitive to issues of propriety and impartiality in the processes for public appointments. I make it clear that this is not a new or an ad hominem issue but one I have been raising for more than a decade. Will the Minister now accept that we need an independent, statutory House of Lords Appointments Commission to vet all appointments to your Lordships’ House on the grounds of both suitability and propriety?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, we have an advisory House of Lords Appointments Commission, whose advice is given careful and full weight. The constitutional position in this country is that the Prime Minister is responsible for advising Her Majesty on appointments to the House of Lords. I do not believe that that responsibility can be passed from a Minister, who is ultimately responsible to Parliament, to an extra-parliamentary statutory body.

Size of the House of Lords

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Tuesday 18th May 2021

(3 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, of course I was struck by what my noble friend said in the debate on the gracious Speech last week and some of the striking figures he gave then. Having said that the Government are not looking for piecemeal change, I will not follow him directly, but it is of course a fact that somewhere above 110 Members of your Lordships’ House are over 80.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister has repeated the Government’s desire not to have piecemeal reform, but does he not accept that the only progress that has been made in your Lordships’ House has been through piecemeal reform? Can he think very seriously about the report’s recommendation about the worrying blurring that has happened between the process for appointing Cross-Bench Peers and party-political Peers? Will he also accept the recommendation that the House of Lords Appointments Commission should regain its control of this process, and perhaps consider the view—which I share with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde—that that commission should be put on a statutory basis?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, as the noble Baroness rightly says, the Appointments Commission has an important role. However, I cannot agree that there has not been progress in reforming your Lordships’ House. I seem to recall a very dramatic reform of your Lordships’ House in 1999—which, considering the age of your Lordships’ House, is relatively recent. Substantial proposals were also put forward in the 2010 Parliament which failed to make progress because the Labour Party would not agree to a programme Motion.

House of Lords: Size

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 27th January 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, my noble friend raises implicitly the question of whether some Peers who are not legislators might be appointed. This idea has been put forward at various times historically. Currently, the position is that they are.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB) [V]
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My Lords, when we last debated this issue on 5 January, the Minister said that neither the present nor the previous Prime Minister had assented to any limit on numbers, but the previous Prime Minister did agree to exercise restraint in appointments to the House in response to the Lord Speaker’s letter following the Burns report as part of an overall acceptance of the need to reduce numbers. Is that no longer the Government’s policy?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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What I said, which I repeat, is that the previous Prime Minister did not accept the committee’s recommendation to commit to a specific cap on numbers, and that remains the position. My right honourable friend Mr Johnson has only recently become Prime Minister. I suggest that we judge him at the end of his term rather than at this time, when, frankly, the Conservative Party has been underrepresented in your Lordships’ House.

G7 Summit

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Thursday 21st January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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I thank my noble friend for her important question. The Prime Minister has agreed to convene a gender equality advisory council that will report to the G7 leaders and drive an ambitious agenda to ensure that the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women is recognised and the importance of gender equality is at the heart of an inclusive recovery. I thank my noble friend for her work and leadership in this area. The council will be part of her legacy.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB) [V]
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My Lords, I declare my interests and very much endorse the Minister’s reply to his noble friend Lady Sugg and his comments about her. I also welcome his response to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, with which I totally agree. I welcome the emphasis that the Government are putting on beating the pandemic and future pandemic planning. However, does the Minister accept that we must recognise the importance of continuing support for ongoing global health programmes—such as that on malaria, where the UK has been a world leader—not only because they save the lives of hundreds of thousands of children every year but because they provide vital health infrastructure for the fight against future diseases?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness with her great experience for her kind comments. I can assure her that the United Kingdom remains committed to the research and development needed to fight all pandemics worldwide. One of the highest moments of my lifetime was the eradication of smallpox, and I am certain that the eradication of these great diseases, one of which the noble Baroness referred to, will remain an objective for all of us.

House of Lords Appointments Commission

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Tuesday 5th January 2021

(3 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to put (1) the remit, and (2) the independence, of the House of Lords Appointments Commission on a statutory footing.

Lord True Portrait The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord True) (Con)
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My Lords, the House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent, advisory, non-departmental public body. The Government have no plans to change the role and remit of the organisation.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB) [V]
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Does the Minister not recognise the deep and widespread concern that has been expressed about the Prime Minister’s approach to appointments to this already overpopulated House? He has now become the first Prime Minister ever to overturn the explicit advice of the Appointments Commission in relation to the propriety of an appointment. This is not an ad hominem issue; it is an issue of real principle. Will the Minister now accept that we need to rebuild public confidence in the process of appointments to this House by creating a commission whose remit and independence is protected by statute?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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No, my Lords. The Government have no plans to change the position. The organisation’s legal status would not affect its remit. The House of Lords needs refreshing and the Prime Minister, like other Prime Ministers, is entitled to do that.

House of Lords: Number of Members

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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No, my Lords. The cardinal facts of this House—which is unique, and that is one of its splendours—are that it is unelected, its Members sit for life and it cannot be dissolved. In those circumstances, the question of a cap raises profound constitutional questions, which, as the previous Prime Minister said, deserve reflection.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB) [V]
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My Lords, when numbers in your Lordships’ House go up, public respect for the House goes down. The Minister said that the previous Prime Minister did not endorse a cap on the size of the House, and that is quite correct, but she did commit to restraint in appointments. Given how seriously the House takes the issue of reducing numbers, can the Minister tell me what conversations the noble Baroness the Leader of the House—the whole House—has had with colleagues in the House, with the leaders and the Convenor, and with her right honourable friend the Prime Minister, about this issue? If he does not have that information to hand, perhaps he could write to me.

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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My Lords, as that question is about the Leader of the House, I think that she would have to address it herself. So far as the numbers are concerned, I dispute that there is any correlation between the size of the House and the respect in which it is held. I remember the very great respect in which the House was held before 1999.

House of Lords: Membership

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Tuesday 5th May 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I certainly agree with the point on scrutiny. The Government have made it very clear that they do not consider piecemeal reform of this House to be sensible. However, I repeat that there is no substance in this story. I am not sure whether it was a case of the ill informed meeting the inventive or perhaps one or the other, but I repeat that it is not government policy.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, reducing the size of the House is obviously not a priority for the moment but it is something that we need to do. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will consider putting a cap on the size of the House, allowing its numbers to be reduced along the lines of the Burns report? However, as other noble Lords have said, the priority now is surely to enhance and increase both the scale and the effectiveness of the scrutiny that we as a House can bring to the conduct of the Government during the current crisis. Are there plans to expand the role and function of the House from their limited forms at the moment?

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I welcome scrutiny and think that it is vital for a democracy. Obviously, the arrangements made by the authorities of the House are beyond my remit; I am here to answer for the Government. The Government do not currently intend to put a cap on the size of the House; indeed, their position is that from time to time the House will need refreshing. That has always been the position; it has never been a static House.

EU: Negotiations

Debate between Baroness Hayman and Lord True
Tuesday 17th March 2020

(4 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, I have a good deal of sympathy with what my noble friend said.

Baroness Hayman Portrait Baroness Hayman (CB)
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My Lords, the Minister talked about the ongoing discussions and the coronavirus emergency in his Answer. Could he tell the House what discussions are going on about relationships with the European Medicines Agency? I hope that we will have new vaccines and new medicines, which need a speedy, combined and accepted recognition and licensing process. It would be a great shame, since we no longer have the European Medicines Agency here, if we were not in the closest co-operation with it over this very urgent matter.

Lord True Portrait Lord True
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My Lords, this is a global challenge; Her Majesty’s Government are in contact with Governments around the world on the best methods of dealing with coronavirus.