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:
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:
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.