Sunday, 13 May 2007

Lord Howe & the House of Lords

On Saturday morning I joined Warwickshire Borough and County Councillors, Parliamentary Candidates & MPs, MEPs and special guests at Warwickshire Conservative Councillors Spring Conference at Shire Hall. A key speaker was Lord Howe of Aberavon who I first met as Geoffrey Howe when he visited Rugby during the 1979 General Election campaign. On Saturday, as 28 years ago, he was a master of his subject, and gave a commentary on the current political situation and spent some time discussing the reform of the House of Lords. His plea was “leave us alone” and in support pointed out that with no current majority for any party in the Lords, an argument had to be won on it’s merit and as a consequence the Lords is better able to scrutinise new legislation than the Commons. The difficulty of course is that in a modern democracy, people no longer expect the legislature to consist of people who are there by right of birth, or by appointment for reasons other than merit, and that is why some reform is inevitable. As a politician of great experience I was interested in his view of when the next General Election might be, and he saw no reasons why Brown might chose a date earlier than 2009 or even 2010.