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'Family friendly' hours on the way

Peers paved the way yesterday for more family-friendly working hours in the Lords, despite Tory complaints that it would undermine the scrutiny of government.

In a debate on working practices, peers proposed reforms including timetabling of legislation, daytime-only sittings and electronic voting.

Baroness Jay of Paddington, Leader of the Lords, said: "Members of this House are typically juggling three competing priorities - their work here, their work outside and their family responsibilities ... Can anyone feel they are performing adequately in their other roles if they have been in this House, as they were this morning until 2am, fulfilling their duties as legislators? One alternative would be for the House to work a more nine-to-five pattern."

Lord Strathclyde, the Tory leader in the Lords, said he had "no wish to see an attempt to mug this House under the misnomer of modernisation. We should not make changes in our procedures for our own personal convenience, still less that of ministers but only such changes as enable our House to operate more effectively in scrutinising not just this government, but all governments."