By Tim Montgomerie
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In day two of yesterday's debate in the House of Lords about reform of the Upper House, Lord (Michael) Forsyth was in very good form.
"I wonder whether your Lordships remember the Austin Allegro. The Austin Allegro was probably the worst car ever built. It was completely unreliable, it had a totally underpowered engine, and its big selling feature was that it had a square steering wheel. This car was designed by the management for political reasons. They ignored the people who knew about cars and design and it was meant to save British Leyland. It was the management's answer. In fact, they were so convinced that it would save the company that it was nicknamed the "flying pig". I do not know whether noble Lords can see the parallel that I am drawing here, but it seems to me that this Bill, which has been so comprehensively filleted by the Joint Committee, has many similarities to the Austin Allegro in so far as the Deputy Prime Minister believes it will save the Liberal Party at the next election. It was conceived for political reasons and without any recognition of the needs of the consumer and the customer-in this case the wider electorate."
He then addressed the two "fibs" that the Tory manifesto and Coalition Agreement committed the Government to the course it is now on (something Paul Goodman has already done):
"For the Government to say that the House is too large and to continue to make additional appointments to it will bewilder the electorate as it bewilders me. Sometimes, I think that the Government are behaving like Caligula, who appointed his horse as a consul. Everyone said, "He's mad". But he was not mad: he appointed his horse as a consul because he wanted to discredit the institution. By making more and more appointments while doing nothing about the size of this place, the Government are trying to have it both ways and are undermining its integrity and effectiveness."