Frank Field MP
Your MP for Birkenhead
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Abolition of the Lords is the next logical step - The tampering of Brexit legislation demands that peers be replaced by a properly elected senate


17 June 2018
Telegraph

The Tory leadership in the House of Lords hasn't yet ruled out the prospect of peers overturning the will of the House of Commons when the Brexit Bill returns to them this week. To defy the elected House once is a misfortune. To defy it twice, particularly when this is about implementing the result of a referendum, is an act of insurrection. The Commons must act. One of the many good side-effects of Brexit should be the abolition of the upper House and its replacement by a much smaller senate.

Leaving the EU was never a one-stop goal. It was a crucial political objective only because it will allow us to settle all the big issues facing the country in our own way and time.

Our departure should be the starting gun for a renaissance across the whole of public life as a new pride in being British, or English as it is now more often expressed, sweeps across our affairs.

Brexit will galvanise the country to reform as it has not done before. One move in this renaissance may be forced on our tired political elite.

The Government was slow in waking up to the fact that our negotiating hand would be significantly strengthened if we had a plan B; a plan for what we would have to do if forced out of the EU without a favourable agreement.

The same thinking needs to be applied now that the Brexit legislation implementing the referendum result is being tampered with in the Lords. Here we have a group of peers who have planned for a long time how they can defeat the legislation.

The group acts, in a sense, as the political agent of Open Britain, the body that in its previous guise campaigned for Remain. More recently, and worse still, we have an even more desperate group of Remainers who have made clear that they will stop at nothing in their attempts to defeat the Brexit legislation.

Their job has been made massively easier by the Government drafting the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in such detail that, in the form in which it was introduced, it ran to 19 clauses and 74 pages. In the earlier days of campaigning for Brexit, I was not the only one who thought this objective would be achieved by a short four-clause bill - date to leave, bringing over into our laws all EU laws and regulations, how Commons and Lords could review them once we were out, and lastly defining a safe haven for the two-year period after our departure.

The sheer scope of the Government's Brexit legislation makes ambushing the country's decision all that more easy. Those opposing the Bill of course seek to clothe themselves in selfrighteousness, talking only in terms of improving it. But most of these peers are wreckers who are sadly being given ample opportunity to savage a Bill of this size and scope.

Hence again the need for a plan B - the abolition of the Lords and its replacement by a senate of a quarter of its size. A new senate would have clearly defined powers of having to consider all government actions, the duty to improve, and the duty to amend. But it would have the ability to send a measure back only once.

I suggest a short four-clause bill that would first abolish the legislative power of the Lords.

Second, a senate would be composed of "elected" senators representing the main interests in our society - science, technology, the arts, both sides of industry, and so on. These interests are already grouped in professional bodies who are self-governing: these bodies would elect a set number of senators decided in the first instance by a joint committee of Lords and Commons.

Third would be a smaller group of senators, taking up to a third of the membership, to represent the balance of regions and political parties elected to the Commons.

Fourth, the party senators would be elected as part of an enlarged general election, during which the senators from the professional bodies would also be elected. The Electoral Commission would supervise both.

I shall shortly be introducing a bill along these lines and will be seeking the backing of fellow MPs. The intention is to persuade the Government to adopt the legislation in readiness, should the last-ditchers and their allies in the Lords prevent a good passage of the Bill implementing the referendum decision.

It will be a bill anyway that the Government should immediately progress upon leaving the EU. The declaration of such action would speak volumes in the renaissance of British society that will follow the date Britain takes back control and is fully responsible for its own destiny.




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