No point in having `powerless' Lords

PLANS to overhaul the House of Lords, including slashing its membership to 450 - of which half would be elected - and abolishing life peers have been described as premature by an East Anglian peeress who says no reform should take place until the powers of the upper house had been determined.

By Graham Dines

PLANS to overhaul the House of Lords, including slashing its membership to 450 - of which half would be elected - and abolishing life peers have been described as premature by an East Anglian peeress who says no reform should take place until the powers of the upper house had been determined.

Baroness Scott of Needham Market said if the Lords were to become merely an advisory body with a scrutiny role, the public would see little point in voting for its members.

A leaked document says Commons Leader Jack Straw favours reducing the current 741 members to 450, and that quotas to ensure women and ethnic minorities were fully represented should be introduced when regional list elections took place.

“We need a debate on the future role of the Lords,” said Baroness Scott, a Liberal Democrat life peer. “What worries me is that we will end up with a body which has considerably less power than at present.

“What sort of democratic mandate will it have if only 25% of the electorate bothers to turn out because voters see no point in having a powerless upper house.”

Most Read

The Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives favour a largely elected House of Lords which would have more power than Mr Straw seems to be advocating.

Hereditary peers were prevented from sitting in the Lords in 1999.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter