Ministry of Justice
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Straw Publishes White Paper on Lords Reform
The Government today set out proposals for the next stage of reforming the House of Lords.
Publishing a White Paper, Justice Secretary Jack Straw said it demonstrated a pragmatic approach aimed at the widest possible consensus on a reformed second chamber.
Publication of the paper follows last year's free votes in Parliament in which the Commons voted in favour of a wholly elected second chamber and for an 80 per cent elected chamber.
The White Paper presents models of how the chamber might work if membership was wholly or 80 per cent elected. It is the platform from which the next stage of reform will be developed.
Mr Straw said:
"The participation of members from all sides in discussions has been invaluable, and I am extremely grateful to them for the constructive approach they have adopted.
"The established primacy of the House of Commons in Parliament should remain, and forms the core of the proposals, which outline how reform of the second chamber could be achieved.
"In our view, the proposals are a unique opportunity to create a more legitimate, effective and representative chamber."
Key points in the White Paper, An Elected Second Chamber: further reform of the House of Lords, include:
* A 100 or 80 per cent elected chamber.
* Options for direct elections: first-past-the-post, alternative vote, single transferable vote and a list system.
* The primacy of the House of Commons must remain in any reform process and the reformed second chamber should not rival or replicate the Commons.
* Proposals on eligibility and disqualification, including recall ballots for elected members of the second chamber and similar arrangements for appointed members.
* Members should normally serve a single non-renewable term of 12 to15 years.
* The link between the peerage and a seat in Parliament will be broken altogether.
* The right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords on the basis of their ancestry brought to an end.
* The size of the second chamber should be significantly reduced and should be smaller than the House of Commons and costs should be maintained or reduced.
* Individuals appointed on their ability, willingness and commitment to take part in the full range of the work of the chamber, if there is an appointed element.
* New members of a reformed second chamber elected in thirds coinciding with General Elections.
* If there is an appointed element in a reformed second chamber, there should continue to be seats reserved for Church of England Bishops, with the number reduced proportionally in a smaller chamber.
* A transition period when existing members and new members will work together.
* Proposals to establish a new independent Statutory Appointments Commission, if there is an appointed element in the second chamber.
Notes to editors
1. The White Paper An Elected Second Chamber: further reform of the House of Lords, is available at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/elected-second-chamber.htm.
2. The Justice Secretary's Oral Statement is available at http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/announcement140708b.htm.
3. The Governance of Britain Green Paper is available at http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm71/7170/7170.pdf