Strengthen relations between Stormont and Westminster

Lord Lexden
Lord Lexden

Since 2012 I have been a member of the Lords Constitution Committee which exists to keep the constitution under review and to conduct inquiries into particular subjects.

We have now launched an inquiry into relations between Westminster and the devolved administrations.

It is an extremely important and influential forum for the discussion of these key relationships and I am very fortunate to be part of it at such a critical time for the Union.

In his article about this inquiry, ‘Peers to examine Stormont-Westminster relationship’ (December 16), Sam McBride states, quite correctly, that there are no Ulster peers on the committee which is conducting the inquiry.

The twelve members of this committee have never been chosen in order to bring together peers from each of the four parts of our country.

We are a group of cross-party peers working in the interests of the country as whole.

It so happens that one of the Labour members, Lord Brennan QC, a former Chairman of the Bar Council, has appeared in important cases before the Northern Ireland courts, as has Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, a Liberal Democrat peer.

I have been closely involved in Ulster politics for forty years including a stint as political adviser to Airey Neave in the late 1970s.

I regard myself first and foremost as a Unionist and only secondarily as a Conservative.

Speaking a few days ago about the possible devolution of corporation tax rates, I described Ulster as the part of our country that matters most to me.

I have said repeatedly in the Lords that the relationship between Stormont and Westminster must be strengthened.

That fundamental constitutional issue will be prominently in my mind as the inquiry proceeds between now and next March.

• Alistair Lexden has been a Conservative and Unionist member of House of Lords since 2011