Baroness Quin Portrait Baroness Quin (Lab)
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None the less, while they are Members of this House, it seems rather odd that they are allowed to vote in parliamentary elections. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, leads me on to the second point, which is that we are able these days to take retirement from the House of Lords, and many people have done that. I am sorry that I do not know the answer to this, but is it possible for those who are no longer active Members, and are not able to speak or vote in the House, to vote in parliamentary elections? If not, that is surely an anomaly that needs correcting. The Government should look at this issue again, in the light not only of the speech by my noble friend Lord Dubs but of the anomalies that exist and seem odd in the current situation.

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury Portrait Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury (Con)
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My Lords, I support the noble Lords, Lord Dubs and Lord Rennard. I am not going to repeat the arguments; I support them, and the House has heard them. This anomaly can be dealt with without opening the Pandora’s box of reform of the House of Lords. I spoke in support of the Private Member’s Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, and I heard the then Minister’s answer. I do not want to be too presumptuous, but I think I can hear the Minister’s response already, with all the same arguments rolled out. I simply ask him one question: what is the practical downside of accepting this amendment? What is the danger? What is the risk?

Lord Redesdale Portrait Lord Redesdale (LD)
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My Lords, I also apologise for not speaking on Second Reading; I was unable to. I was not planning on speaking in this debate, but the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, raised the point of some of us being here permanently. I have been here a mere 30 years, but I cannot actually see the fact that I have been here 30 years as a legislator making that much difference to the country. I would love to say that being a Back-Bench Liberal Democrat is the bedrock of our whole system, but I cannot really put that forward. When I came here, it was the mantra that only Lords, lunatics and criminals could not vote, but that is no longer the case—though it depends on what bracket you put us in.

I have one question for the Minister. I am standing as a candidate in the local election, and my wife is standing as the agent for the Liberal Democrats in Islington. The complexity of the forms you have to fill in, with the understanding of the minutiae and detail, is incredibly difficult. What is the cost to the country of us being taken off the electoral register? Everybody has to be trained; it has to go through the whole system; it has to be part of the process. The cost is not insignificant for 800 people to be treated in a different category. Of course, it goes into a number of different areas. If the Minister could give us an indication of just how much our privilege of being taken off the register, so we can carry on with this view that we are a permanent part of the process, would cost, and whether that is worth it, I would be very interested.

--- Later in debate ---
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, has just informed me that MPs are paid during Prorogation. So even when they vote in a general election, they are in fact still being paid as MPs.

Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury Portrait Lord Sherbourne of Didsbury (Con)
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I just want to say to my noble friend Lord Cormack that, if a Member of Parliament is in a constituency that they do not represent but is on the register, they can vote for that constituency in a by-election even though they are still an MP.