Thursday, August 10, 2006

Government Need to Shift on Lords' Reform

Elect the Lords Campaign

This day last year I took part in the Elect the Lords bloggers pledge. Now a year on little has changed from the Government's point of view as regards the upper chamber.

Last year I reflected on how the sad loss to electoral reform the death of Robin Cook might have on steering his Labour colleagues through and towards this which he felt passionately about. A year on and his successor as MP for Livingston Jim Devine has dug in his heels over electoral reform. However, he is sadly not alone on Labour's benches.

While a recent poll of Lord's reform supporters showed that the majority favoured a fully elected second chamber, but would be be willing to compromise at 70%, Jack Straw recently claimed the concensus was for 50%. Where he got this figure from is the supject of a great deal of speculation. However, when the subuject was last voted on in the House of Commons 50% was so unpopular an opinion it was not even put to the vote, whereas 80% was the closest to being taken up when it fell short by only 3 votes.

It is now 95 years since the 1911 Parliament Act said:

"it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation."

Surely now with the recent revelations of cash for honours for both Labour and Conservative donors the case to reform the House of Lords is as strong now as it was in those Edwardian times? Is it not time to Elect the Lords?

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