Not a single constituent has ever raised with me the need to reform the House of Lords. Not a single one. Two have called on me to oppose continued presence of the bishops if reform does go ahead. I rather approve of bishops. But not a single person has suggested to me that we MPs should turn our attention to pushing through this massive change in how the people of Britain are governed.
Now I personally support reform. But what sort of reform. I suspect there are 100 versions of the type of reform individual Parliamentarians would support. I can see a case for capping the numbers at around 500. I can see the case for 'kicking out' miscreants. I can see the case for stronger 'independent' vetting and approval of new ermine-wearers. Most of all, I can see a case for reviewing the role of the Lords in scrutinising and amending new legislation emanating from the devolved Gov'ts. But this is not what we are about to consider. Even though I've not seen the Bill yet, I understand that we are talking about a 'root and branch' change in how Britain is governed.
In today's Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote "Clegg's scheme needs to be liquidated, vaporised and generally terminated". Lots of MPs have told me today that they agree with this. It seems that there will be a crunch vote in a few days time. The public will not fully grasp what it means. It will be a vote on a 'programme motion'. Essentially this guillotines debate on the Bill. Many clauses are likely not to be debated at all. And we are told that asking the people to express their views in a referendum will not be allowed either. We are told that the 'promoters'of this legislation want to ensure a timetable that effectively removes the current House of Lords from the decision making process by using the Parliament Act. That why there's such a hurry. Its accepted that their Lordships will defeat this Bill when it goes there, before returning it to the Commons - where the Government will be able to re-introduce the Bill in the next Parliamentary session, and after the period of one year, ram it through the Lords using the Parliament Act. And nothing, dear friends could be done by anyone to stop it.
I have to admit that when I was elected a Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire in 2010, I did not envisage facing such a situation. I've always been inherently loyal to 'my team'. I have been ferociously loyal to the Gov't - not ever having voted against the whip. Friends and colleagues, I am deeply troubled.