The question at the top of this blog was asked in the Upper House yesterday by Lord Lamont:
"Does my noble friend accept that in a number of bicameral systems in the world it is possible for a Prime Minister to be in either House? While it might not be acceptable to public opinion at the moment for a Prime Minister to sit in this House as it is presently constituted, if in, say, 10 years' time this House is wholly elected, is deemed more legitimate and is demanding more powers, would it not be appropriate and necessary for there to be more senior Ministers in this House? Would it not be wrong for the Government's legislation to exclude the possibility of a Prime Minister being in this House, as used to be the case right up to the early years of the 20th century?"
Leader of the Lords, Tom Strathclyde responded:
"The fact is that the Prime Minister is First Lord of the Treasury. It would a very strange thing, given the reduced powers of this House since 1911, for the Prime Minister to be a Member of this House. Therefore, we have no plan or proposal to make it so."
The ePolitix website sees these issues as the beginning of a potential power struggle between the Lords and what would be an elected Lords. Many people would start to see the Lords – if elected by PR – as more legitimate than the Commons.
In answering another question Lord Strathclyde confirmed that "it was in the coalition agreement that, in the event of there being an elected second Chamber, it would be under the system of proportional representation." My own view remains that Tory MPs won't stomach AV or an elected Upper House but, if AV is defeated, Nick Clegg will insist on Lords reform.
86 MORE TORY PEERS THIS PARLIAMENT?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon for Labour asked if the Government will continue to pursue the coalition agreement's commitment that "Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election", meaning, she concluded, "86 more Conservative Peers and 99 more Liberal Democrat Peers."
Lord Strathclyde responded: "My Lords, over time, we shall certainly wish to produce what is in the coalition agreement."
More in Hansard.