HL Deb 11 November 1999 vol 606 cc1449-50

2 After Clause 1, insert the following new clause— (".—(1) There shall be an Appointments Commission ("the Commission") which shall make proposals to the Prime Minister for recommendations to Her Majesty for the conferment of life peerages in accordance with the Life Peerages Act 1958. (2) The Commission shall be an advisory non-departmental public body and shall-

  1. (a) be appointed in accordance with the rules of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and may seek his advice about best practice in attracting and assessing potential nominees;
  2. (b) operate an open and transparent nominations system for peers not belonging to, or recommended by, any political party ("the Cross Bench peers");
  3. (c) actively invite nominations by the general public and encourage nominations from professional associations, charities and other public bodies that it judges appropriate;
  4. (d) publish criteria under which it will determine a candidate's suitability for nomination;
  5. (e) reinforce the present function of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee in vetting the suitability of all nominations to life peerages by the political parties; and
  6. (f) scrutinise all candidates for life peerages on the grounds of propriety in relation to political donations, as proposed in the 5th Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
(3) The Commission shall appoint its own Chairman. (4) It shall, at most every 6 months, and at least every year, make proposals to the Prime Minister for nomination as Cross Bench peers, sufficient at least to fill any vacancies among Cross Bench peers that may occur through death, disqualification or a decision to join a political party represented in the House of Lords. (5) The Prime Minister may not refuse to submit to Her Majesty the names of those recommended as Cross Bench peers by the Commission, and shall not seek to influence such nominations, save in exceptional circumstances, such as those endangering the security of the realm. (6) The Commission, in considering nominations as Cross Bench peers, shall not give any additional weight to recommendations from the Prime Minister or the Leaders of other political parties. (7) Following the passing of this Act the Commission shall make a report annually to Parliament on the recommendations made to Her Majesty by the Prime Minister for the conferment of life peerages, which it will declare if the following criteria are being observed, namely that-
  1. (a) no one political party commands a majority in the House of Lords;
  2. (b) the Government has broad parity of numbers with the main opposition party;
  3. (c) the proportion of the Cross Bench peers to the total number of peers in the House remains the same as the proportion of the Cross Bench life peers to the total number of life peers in the House on the day before the passing of this Act; and
  4. (d) more than half of the total membership of the House of Lords is composed of peers who in the opinion of the Commission have experience of, and expertise in, fields other than (or in addition to) politics.
(8) The Commission shall consist of eight members of the Privy Council, of whom four shall be appointed by a special Commission of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Lord Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords. (9) One Commissioner shall be appointed from each of the three largest parties in the House of Commons on the nomination of the Leader of each such party, and one shall be appointed from the Cross Bench peers on the nomination of the Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers.").