Back in 2013 the Liberal Democrat Federal Executive agreed to reform the ‘interim peers panel’ process by which (in theory, rather less so in practice) party members got to vote on who the party leader would appoint to the House of Lords.
You can read more about the consultation at the time and its proposals here, but suffice to say the FE came up with some sensible recommendations which had a good chance of future party leaders following them.
However… those recommendations never got put to party conference to vote on. Accounts as to why vary but at the heart of it was the then breakdown of relations between the FE and the Federal Conference Committee, as a result of which rather than gremlins being overcome and a sensible outcome being sorted, instead the proposals disappeared into the ether.
Now an FE search and rescue party has been sent out into the very same ether. The plan is to consult with the new leader before putting matters to the vote at the spring 2016 conference. (There isn’t time between the leadership election concluding and the autumn 2015 conference to consult, discuss and table the business in time.)
Meanwhile, Daisy Cooper has asked both the leadership candidates what they think of the interim peers panel process. Here’s what they said – with both answers suggesting that the leadership candidates haven’t tuned in to the fact that proposals for changing the process are sat there ready to go, as their answers refer to wanting caveats which the reformed process would provide anyway:
Will you promise to only appoint new Peers from the party’s Peers panel list as elected by the party membership?
I take the relatively straightforward view that the reason we as members elect a peers panel is to help determine who represents our party in the Lords. I do think it’s right, as well, that there is a little flexibility in the system to help get the balance right when it comes to appointing a group of new peers, particularly when tackling diversity.
On appointments to the House of Lords, I suspect this will be more a theoretical issue rather than a real one given the prospects of new places in the House of Lords. My principle, however, would be to use appointments to further diversity. This may not always mean appointments from the panel but I would absolutely respect and take very seriously the panel.