That interim peers list in full…

Hmmm… this article has opened a bit of a can of worms for me. Along with (Baroness) Liz Barker and (now Sir) David Williams, in 2004 I drafted the current rules for electing the interim peers list. Unaccountably, I am yet to receive any kind of honour myself.

Earlier today, I tweeted Stephen Tall to inform him that the list elected in 2006 still applies. Having now got home and looking at my old papers, it would seem that it is actually more complicated than that.

The paper we produced provides two options, and a suboption if Option A is approved:

OPTION ONE:
A) 30 people shall be elected to the Interim Peers list every two years. However, in the first year (2004), 60 people shall be elected.
B) 30 people shall be elected to the Interim Peers list every two years. People shall remain on the list until the next election has been declared.

OPTION TWO (if A is passed):
C) People elected to the panel shall remain on the list for life.
D) People elected to the panel shall remain on the list for 10 years.

In addition, the following other people shall be on the list ex-officio:
* Former Liberal Democrat MPs
* A special case shall be made for the Hereditary Peers who were elected in 1999 if they are to lose their seat before democratic reforms of the Second Chamber have been put in place.

Annoyingly, my records don’t include the records of what was eventually decided by the FE (my computer crashed) and I can’t remember precisely what happened. I seem to recall that Option A was passed, but that only 30 would be elected initially and that the term of office was reduced to four years. It is certainly the case that in 2004 only 30 were elected (not 60) and that none of the 2004 list restood in 2006, although they did restand in 2008:

Source: Colin Rosenstiel. If you are aware of any (non-defamatory) reason why any of these people are now ineligible, please say so in the comments below and I will update the list.

Can anyone from Cowley Street confirm what the position is?

The list of former MPs gives Nick Clegg an even wider pool to draw from as this includes everyone who has at any point been a Liberal, Social Democrat or Liberal Democrat MP. The “elected” hereditaries are not currently eligible for inclusion in this list as they have not been thrown out of the Lords yet.

Finally, the policy also spells out how the party is to make appointments:

Advisory Panel:
An advisory panel shall be created consisting of the President, the Vice Presidents, the Leader of the Lords Party (or his/her nominee), the Chief Whip in the Lords (or his/her nominee) and one representative from the Commons Party. This panel shall be responsible for creating a shortlist of recommended candidates for the Leader to consider.

The Advisory Panel shall be requested to evaluate candidates on criteria, including the following:

  • Conscientious, hard-working individuals capable of working in a team, who are aware of the time they are expected to commit as a working peer and would be capable of giving it.
  • Experts in particular fields that the existing Lords Party is currently lacking in.
  • Diversity. The Party is committed to making the Lords Parliamentary Party more representative of wider society.

Role of the Leader:
The Leader shall have final say in the appointment. In addition, the Leader is invited to nominate one candidate of her/his choice from outside the list at each round of nominations if s/he wishes. If the number of peers appointed and nominated from the list exceeds the number remaining, the Leader may make further nominations from outside the list.

The line about the leader having the final say is a reflection of the UK’s current wibbly-wobbly constitutional position. In other words, while you can blame us for getting a lot of things wrong, you can’t blame us for this.

Two further points:

Firstly, if the party is to suddenly get 95 peers to appoint, in my view the interim peers list system will completely break down. It was never intended as an automatic entry into the House of Lords, subject to places being made available – hence the establishment of an advisory board. It was drawn up in an era when we expected peerages to be appointed by the handful, on an annual basis – not more of less stop for four years and restart with a big splurge.

I would be surprised if, after vetting, the party’s powers-that-be would end up appointing even half of these people. Nor, regardless of the rights and wrongs of appointment, do I believe they should be. If the Federal Executive and Nick Clegg is planning to make these appointments even halfway democratic it needs to review the policy quickly.

Second, frankly the whole system stinks. We shouldn’t be making these appointments at all as they highlight quite how foetid the appointments process really is. The party is going to get hammered over every single controversial appointment (and there are bound to be some), and rightly so. At the very least, Nick Clegg should not appoint a single new peer from whom he has not got a signed pledge to support an elected second chamber and stand down at the first opportunity.

19 thoughts on “That interim peers list in full…

  1. I think it would be a great mistake to use this list. If new peers need to be appointed, Nick Clegg should appoint from both within and outside the party rather than relying on a list of the party’s so-called great and good elected only by Conference reps.

    Dee Doocey presumably ineligible as a member of the GLA.

  2. Party appointments are party appointments; you can’t appoint cross-benchers, that would defeat the whole object of appointing them.

    I think this list is perfectly valid as a basis for appointment precisely because it DOESN’T consist of the great and good. If Clegg only appointed his favourites, that’s exactly what you would get.

    The fundamental problem is appointment, not how you appoint. That’s why, in my view, he shouldn’t appoint anyone. I don’t see anything in the agreement which commits him to do so.

  3. Oh, and regarding Dee Doocey, I don’t believe she is ineligible. Lord Tope was on the GLA for many years, and I am unaware of any rules changes since it formally counts as local government, not a parliamentary chamber. The rules WERE changed for MEPs, but that is because of the Lisbon Treaty.

  4. The problem is, what would we replace it with? There is pretty much nothing about appointment that is not corrupting. We could come up with a long drawn out, open candidate approval and selection process but it would take years and cost a fortune for very little benefit.

    We should just walk away from such nonsense on focus on electing the chamber.

  5. Not sure why this is necessary at all since, as Phil Cowley points out, the upper house already has a majority if Tory and Lib Dem peers vote in favour of coalition bills.

    Is it more of an issue that the Conservatives can’t routinely get all of their peers to show up and vote?

  6. Firstly I declare an interest, as one who (just) got onto the most recent list of Interim Peers Panel (IPP). I did so, unashamedly, with a view to being well placed to help draft and steer through legislation on a subject that many of you know I’ve spent over 10 years studying – and which is now reaffirmed as Party policy: land value taxation. But I believe I have other skills and experience to offer.
    Why on earth should a democratic party ignore the list? It was thoroughly debated at the time and was recognised as an interim solution to a problem that will only be solved by PR (which is still – but only just – beyond our reach).
    Of course the IPP cannot satisfy the full need (if it exists) to create 100+ peers. But it should be the place we look first for people to fill the slots needed.

  7. Alex,

    Yes, I think it is more of an issue that the Tories can’t get their peers to show up. All the more reason for us to take the moral high ground here and decline to nominate anyone.

    Tony,

    I absolutely agree that the IPP list should be used as the basis of any new appointments; I just don’t think people should be under the impression that if 90 people are to be appointed, the whole panel should be appointed.

  8. As I understand it the list is not 30, as reported by LDV, its 60, with 30 elected every 2 years, but for a 4 year term (so there is always 60). Many of those elected in 2006 were unsuccessful candidates from 2004, though the first list has no ‘seniority’ over the second list.

  9. By the way, John Stevens, to the best of my knowledge, is still a Lib Dem member, and as he did not stand against a Lib Dem candidate will not be necessarilty expelled for standing in an election not as a Lib Dem.

  10. @Duncan Borrowman
    Quite right Duncan. In a totally different ball-game. Undoubtedly there are names on there that should have been in the Lords years ago, but there are others……….

  11. The trouble with the IPP list is that it looks as if only 36 people applied for the 30 places last time.

    If 90 people are to be appointed, and we want to be democratic, then we ought to break the list down into regions with manageable numbers of places, and run regional contests in which members will actually know the candidates they are voting for. In practice, ex-MPs etc are likely to stand a good chance of being elected by this method anyway.

  12. It is worth pointing out at this stage that Nick Clegg today dismissed the Times story and announced that he had no intention of stuffing the Lords.

  13. James –

    Only just come accross this interesting article – I don’t know if you (or anyone else) knows the answer to the following:

    1) What did Nick actually say on 19th May in response to the question about stuffing the Lords? The logic of the coalition agreement does seem to suggest a vast number of new appointments – in other words a collossal act of patronage.

    2) If there are to be vast numbers of new appointments as Lib Dem peers, over what time period is this likely to be? Will peers continue to be created at the same rate, but in a more proportional manner?

    3) When is it ancticipated that we will have the first elections for the HOL? Would this be to coincide with the next GE, or earlier?

    4) How would I get a copy of the current rules on interim peers? I had been under the (possibly wrong) impression that the leadership was obliged to choose from this list with the exception of one free choice?

    If anyone has any answers I’d be very interested to hear from them!

  14. 1) You can read it here. The relevant quote is:

    We are not suddenly going to – I want to reform the House of Lords? I don’t want to stuff the House of Lords. Any transitional arrangement – where the coalition agreement quite rightly said that in that transitional arrangement you want some greater proportionality in the appointments made to the House of Lords – is just that. It is a transitional arrangement. I would like to reduce that to a heartbeat. If we could reform the House of Lords tomorrow and just get on with it, that is what I would like to do. We will do it as soon as we can. We are not going to start orchestrating some great stuffing of the House of Lords.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “logic”. Currently, the Lib Dem and Tory members in the Lords enjoys the balance of power and there would be an enormous political price to pay by suddenly appointing dozens of new people. “Logic” to me suggests that they neither need to do it, nor would it be in their interests. It certainly wouldn’t reflect the “spirit” of the coalition agreement, which is all about reforming the Lords and ending patronage.

    2) There won’t be.

    3) It will be decided over the next few months. My guess is that they will stick with the last government plans of having elections to the second chamber on the same day as the Commons general election. Personally, I think there is a case for holding them on a different day, but I’m not sure the timescale will allow for it (you have got to assume that the Lords will try every possible trick in the book to thwart the legislation).

    4) What I’ve published is all official, but you will have to write to the Party President to confirmation about what precisely counts as policy at the moment. The leader was not strictly obliged to abide by it, but it is disappointing that he has chosen to quite so flagrantly ignore it.

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