Get on with what really matters to real people

In the past few days, Westminster has been buzzing about House of Lords reform.

It’s difficult to hear people in the House of Commons, especially Conservative MPs, talk of anything else.

I’m sure it’s the same with you in Hartlepool. I bet that you cannot think of anything else as you go about your daily routine, wondering about what to have for your tea, how you might pay for the next energy bill or tank of petrol, or whether your job will be safe in the next 12 months. Or perhaps you live in the real world.

I am genuinely amazed that Government MPs, who are presumably receiving the same sort of letters and e-mails that I receive every day from constituents about the cost of groceries or problems with tax credits, wish to obsess about House of Lord reform.

In the face of the deepest recession of modern times, when unemployment is rising and economic growth non-existent, the issue that Conservative MPs want to rebel against their Government is constitutional reform. It doesn’t exactly give the impression that they are close to their constituents’ concerns.

I am perhaps being unfair. The manner in which this country is governed is important. The issue of House of Lords reform has been on the cards for over a century.

It is wrong that a Parliament that makes laws in which every one of us in this country have to live is not democratically electable and accountable to constituents.

In my opinion, you should not have the ability to pass legislation without having sought election.

I also think that any change to the constitution and the manner in which the country is governed should be the subject of a referendum, to allow the people to decide what their Parliament looks like.

In the last Parliament, when this matter was discussed, I voted for a 100 per cent elected House of Lords.

At the time of writing this column, the Government has just abandoned the so-called Programme Motion, the Parliamentary device in which the House of Commons decides how much time it should devote to considering the proposed legislation on a line-by-line basis.

This is in the face of immense pressure from Conservative MPs: as many as 100 MPs were forecast to be prepared to rebel on this issue.

Speaking to Tory MPs this week, I was very much struck by how angry they are about David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister over this matter.

The idea of House of Lords reform is now probably kicked in the long grass for some time.

In many respects this is probably a good thing, because Parliament can now concentrate its business on matters that are actually relevant to most people, issues like economic growth, creating employment opportunities, sorting out the banking crisis and helping to make the economy work for everybody rather than a narrow and privileged elite.