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Nick Clegg sets out his proposals for Lords reform

By Matthew Barrett

CleggSpeaking In the House a short while ago, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg set out his ideas for reform of the House of Lords. His main points:

  • The White Paper contains a proposal for 300 members, each eligible for a single term of 3 Parliaments' length
  • There is an option for a 100% elected Lords
  • There is also a proposal for 80% elected, and 20% appointed - the appointed members being Crossbenchers, rather than party members. Under this plan, Bishops would remain - although their number would be reduced to 12
  • Elections would be staggered, in order that the Lords is not a mirror image of the Commons
  • A third of current sitting members would be removed every Parliament, at the same time as new members are elected, or elected and appointed in the case of the 80%/20% plan
  • Elections would take place in 2015, 2020 and 2025
  • The Lords would have a different electoral system - STV "in order that votes are cast for individuals, not parties"
  • A party list system has not been ruled out

Clegg sounded keen to compromise, and stressed that the White Paper contained options, rather than a clear and straightforward blueprint for reform. 

Clegg announced the reforms today, but he won't be responsible for carrying them through. Rachel Sylvester in the Times (£) today reported that the Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde and Mark Harper MP, both Conservatives, will be responsible for "selling" the reforms.

It's unlikely that these Lords reforms will pass through the Commons without major revision - questions from all sides of the House were overwhelmingly hostile to the plans. Last month on ConservativeHome, the Member for Hereford and South Herefordshire, Jesse Norman, set out why plans for replacing the House of Lords with an elected alternative should not be a priority - and that was very much the sentiment of other members.

In terms of support in the Lords, a new poll for ComRes today shows a large majority of Lords oppose reforms, and think it unlikely any such reforms will pass during this current Parliament. A representative cross-section of 121 Peers were asked about:

  • Replacing the current Lords with roughly 300 members elected by PR - 15% were in favour, and 78% against
  • Regarding a change of names, the possibility of changing to a "Senate" has 24% support, but 63% oppose it
  • On the likelihood of major House of Lords reform being passed during the current Parliament, a total of 78% considered it to be unlikely, including a majority of Lib Dem peers


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