HISTORIC reforms which would see serious criminals removed from the House of Lords have been put forward by North Warwickshire MP Dan Byles.
His Private Member's Bill, proposing 'modest but essential reforms' to the house, successfully made it through the second reading last week and will now be further scrutinised by a committee of MPs.
Mr Byles wants to see the removal of Peers who have been imprisoned for more than 12 months – in line with current House of Commons laws affecting MPs.
The 'Byles Bill' would also require members of the House of Lords to attend on a regular basis and enable them to retire – current Peers cannot leave even if they want to.
"There are currently three Peers who have been convicted of crimes and sent to prison for more than 12 months and it is wrong that those convicted of serious offences can be thrown out of the House of Commons, but not the House of Lords," Mr Byles said.
"It is also a bit bizarre that once someone becomes a member of the House of Lords they can never leave, even if they want to.
"That's one reason why the House of Lords now has over 750 members and growing. It's just too big."
Mr Byles also wants the law to state that all Peers must attend at least once a session.
"There are some who just don't turn up for years at a time," he said.
"But it's an honour to be selected and they should be required to fulfil their duty."
Although it is unusual for a Bill with constitutional implications to be brought in by a backbench MP, Mr Byles has done his homework and has attracted wide support in principle from the three main parties.
The Bill will now be discussed by a special committee of around 16 to 18 MPs before going back to the House of Commons for further debate in the report stage.