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Summary

  1. Lords examine a bill to remove the by-election system for the election of hereditary peers
  2. Other bills on lobbying and budget responsibility

Live Reporting

By Kate Whannel

All times stated are UK

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Lords adjourn

House of Lords

Parliament

The debate concludes and the bill passes to the next stage, although without government support it is very unlikely to become legislation.

Thank you for joining us today. Peers will be back on Monday to debate the Investigatory Powers Bill at committee stage.

House of Lords clock
BBC

Young: Is new legislation necessary?

Budget Responsibility Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Government spokesman Lord Young of Cookham backs the spirit of the bill but asks if more legislation is needed.

He suggests that everything Baroness Kramer's bill proposes could be done under existing legislation.

He adds that yesterday he took part in a debate where the participants were united in "begging for restraint" when introducing new legislation.

Oldham: Governments judged on economic growth not reduction of debt

Budget Responsibility Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Davies of Oldham responds to the bill on behalf of the opposition.

He applauds the bill's proposals arguing that a government will be judged not by the reduction of debt but the extent to which the economy is place "on the pathway towards growth".

Lord Davies of Oldham
bbc

The Charter for Budget Responsibility

Budget Responsiblity Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

In 2015, MPs approved George Osborne's legally binding Charter for Budget Responsibility.

The charter required the government to run a budget surplus by 2020.

The charter applied in "normal economic times" - defined as a time when the economy grew by 1% a year or more.

The Office of Budget Responsibility was to be responsible for policing the new rules.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell described the charter as a "purile political stunt" and "an instrument for imposing austerity on our community unnecessarily".

George Osborne argued that it was not a political gimmick to have sound public finances.

In July, George Osborne abandoned the surplus target on the grounds that the referendum would produce a "significant economic shock" to the economy. 

Peers debate fiscal mandate rules

House of Lords

Parliament

Peers moves on to the final bill for today - Lib Dem Baroness Kramer's Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill.

The bill amends the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011 to establish certain requirements on the Treasury when preparing a fiscal mandate.

As chancellor, George Osborne introduced a fiscal mandate requiring future governments to achieve a budget surplus "in normal times".

Baroness Kramer argues that this led to "perverse decisions" to under-invest in infrastructure.

Her bill therefore would force the Treasury to consider the following issues when preparing a fiscal mandate:

  • the need for continued investment in infrastructure
  • the need to ensure the fiscal madate does not have a substantially negative impact on intergenerational fairness
  • the need to ensure the economy remains competitive.
Baroness Kramer
BBC

Government rejects further legislation

Lobbying Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen
BBC

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen says the current register of lobbyists needs to be given more time to work.

She says the 2014 act should make lobbying transparent; and that the government does not believe any further legislation needed.

She says the definition of lobbying in Lord Brooke's bill is wide and that it includes in-house lobbyists - but counters saying the activities of in-house lobbyists can be garnered through the examination of ministerial diaries.

She says the government has reservations, too, about the establishment of a statutory code of conduct.

"We are proud of the level of transparency that those who seek to influence public policy must demonstrate," she says. 

"We will continue to uphold those high standards of transparency in the future."

Present situation 'not good enough'

Lobbying Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Baroness Hayter welcomes the bill, saying big business with special interest has influence, out of sight of the public.

She says previous attempts to regulate lobbyists have failed; and that the current register does not represent lobbyists like those working for big companies' public affairs and parliamentary affairs departments as consultants.

She says that it is no good relying on ministerial diaries for transparency in regard to lobbying: "If only the diaries were timely, searchable and comprehensive," she says.

She says the present situation with lobbying and transparency "is not good enough".

What does the bill propose?

Lobbying Bill

The Lobbying (Transparency) Bill is a private member's bill introduced by Labour peer Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe. 

The bill would repeal Part 1 of the Transparency of Lobbying Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act; and would replace a statutory register of consultant lobbyists with a new statutory register.

That new register would cover a wider range of lobbying activity - both consultant lobbyists and in-house lobbyists from a wide range of organisations would be required to register.

The bill would also introduce a statutory code of conduct for lobbyists.

You can read more about the bill here.

Bill would not catch 'whispered words'

Lobbying bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Labour's Lord Howarth of Newport is supportive of the bill.

To support his argument he notes that the Home Office has refused to release notes of a meeting between Theresa May and representatives of the drinks industry.

He tells peers that it has been suggested the then home secretary backtracked on the government's policy on alcohol-related crime following that meeting - "We don't know but we should know the truth of the matter."

He acknowledges that the proposed bill wouldn't catch "words whispered at Wimbledon and Royal Opera House". However he believes it would go some way to shed daylight on the process of lobbying.

Royal Opera House
BBC

Lansley: Bill goes too far

Lobbying Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Lansley
BBC

Conservative Lord Lansley fears the bill creates too great a burden and extends too far.

He believes the proposed new register would have to record any time any public officials, including all civil servants, spoke to "anyone, on any subject".

He also isn't sure further transparency is needed; arguing, for example, that everyone already knows Heathrow lobbies the government about a third runway. 

The important thing, he believes, is to know under what circumstance a decision was reached.

Brooke: Lobbying is the scandal 'that never goes away'

Lobbying Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe
BBC

Lord Brooke believes it is "perfectly rational" for organisations to seek to influence government.

However he warns peers - "there is much happening that we don't know about that we should know about".

It is, he says, the scandal that never goes away.

He criticises the current register as being too weak, arguing that very few lobbyists are required to register their meetings with government.

Lord Brooke argues that his bill would improve on the current register by insisting it include the name of individual lobbyists and details on who they are meeting and on what subject.

History of political lobbying scandals

Report from 3 June 2013

Three peers and an MP have been accused of agreeing to do parliamentary work for payment after undercover reporters for the Sunday Times, BBC Panorama and the Daily Telegraph posed as lobbyists.

But the allegations levelled at Lord Laird, Lord Cunningham, Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Patrick Mercer, all of whom deny wrongdoing, are just the latest flashpoint to bring the issue to the fore.

Here's a look back at some of the most high-profile lobbying scandals of the past.

Read more

Neil Hamilton was accused of taking cash to ask questions
PA
Neil Hamilton was accused of taking cash to ask questions

Peers debate lobbying bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The debate winds up and the bill passes to its next stage without a vote.

Peers now move on to the Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe's Lobbying (Transparency) Bill.

The bill calls for a register of lobbyists and a code of conduct. 

Chisholm: Now is not the time for change

House of Lords Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The Cabinet Office spokeswoman Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen worries that removing hereditary peers would turn the House of Lords into a "de-facto appointed chamber".

She says any change needs to be bound up "in comprehensive discussion of reform".

The time for such reform, she argues, is not now.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen
BBC

Hayter: A thousand reasons to support the bill

House of Lords Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Baroness Hayter
BBC

Baroness Hayter now responds for the opposition and gives the bill "the warmest of welcomes".

She can think of a thousand reasons to support the bill. Not least, she says, the thousands of sons who took their place in the Lords merely "because of their forebears".

She acknowledges that the bill is only a "modest measure" but hopes the government will dismiss it for not being a priority.

If they say that, she concludes, change will never happen.

Peer condemns current state of House of Lords

House of Lords Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Conservative Lord Mancroft launches an attack on the current state of the House of Lords.

He tells peers that he has come to the "reluctant conclusion" that "we don't do our job as well as we used to".

He believe scrutiny of legislation is not good and debates have become "a string of overlong statements with precious little relevance to the previous speakers".

Hereditary peerages, he says, have many faults but he argues that they brought independence to debates.

Such peers he compares to the "professional, self-interested class" that he believes has come to dominate the House.

Lord Mancroft
BBC

Lords' procedure: fact of fiction?

House of Lords

Parliament

Lib Dem Lord Rennard now speaks in favour of the bill.

He likens recent by-elections to the rotten borough election depicted in Blackadder.

At this point, Conservative Lord Mancroft intervenes to remind the speaker that Blackadder is a work of fiction. He suggests that Lib Dems have difficulty telling fiction from fact.

Lord Rennard replies that many visitors to the House of Lords would struggle to believe their procedures weren't fiction.

Blackadder
BBC

Coming up

Lib Dem peers tweet

Trefgarne: By-election system must remain until further reform

House of Lords Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

The bill meets immediate resistance from Conservative (and hereditary) peer Lord Trefgarne.

He says the by-election system was introduced by the Labour government of the time in order to secure the passage of the reform bill.

He notes that the by-election system was intended to stay in place until further reform took place.

Lord Trefgarne notes that no such reform has taken place and therefore the by-election system should remain.

Lord Trefgarne
BBC

Grocott: By-election system is an absurd anomaly

House of Lords Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

Lord Grocott tells peers that the by-election procedure was only meant as a temporary measure, which would be done away with once comprehensive Lords reform took place.

He describes the system as being "way, way, way past its sell by date".

Abolishing "this absurd anomaly" he argues would enhance the House of Lord's reputation, hurt no-one and cost nothing.

Lord Grocott
BBC

House of Lords Act 1999 (Amendment) Bill

House of Lords

Parliament

And we're off.

First on today's list is Lord Grocott’s bill which seeks to change the House of Lords Act 1999 to remove the by-election system for the election of hereditary peers.

In 1999, the Labour government abolished the majority of hereditary peers. As a compromise measure 90 remained.

When a hereditary peer dies, a by-election takes place whereby members of the House of Lords elect a replacement from a register of hereditary peers.

In a committee report, the procedure was described as "a crazy system" which "risked exposing the chamber to ridicule".

House of Lords
BBC

What are private members' bills?

House of Lords

Parliament

Private members’ bills are those introduced by an individual peer rather than the government.

However, unless the bill receives government backing it is unlikely to become law. Often members will use the opportunity to draw attention to a particular issue.

Successful private members bills of the past include David Steele's 1967 bill which legalised abortion.

And in 1994 Gyles Brandreth’s Marriage Bill allowed wedding ceremonies to take place other than a church of registry office.

Wedding at a stately home
Getty Images

Good morning

House of Lords

Parliament

House of Lords
BBC

Hello and welcome to our coverage of the House of Lords.

Today peers will be discussing private members’ bills and first off is Lord Grocott’s House of Lords Act 1999 (Amendment) Bill, which would prevent the by-election of hereditary peers.

Next we have Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe’s Lobbying (Transparency) Bill, which would establish a register of lobbyists and a code of conduct.

Finally Baroness Kramer will introduce the Budget Responsibility and National Audit (Fiscal Mandate) Bill. This bill would require the government to take investment and economic competitiveness into account when seeking to achieve a surplus in the economy.