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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:48 GMT
Head to head: Lords reform
The government's plans for the second stage of Lords' reform are to be unveiled on Wednesday.

The long-awaited White Paper is expected to propose a mainly politically appointed chamber for the upper house with a small number of elected members

As with the first stage of Lords reform that got rid of all but 92 hereditary peers any attempts to reform are bound to cause controversy.

Veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, who was the vice-chairman of the Royal Commission into the stage two of Lords reform and Conservative leader in the upper house, Lord Strathclyde, give their views.

Lord Strathclyde:

Lord Strathclyde
Lord Strathclyde accused the government of being control freaks
"What we are seeing now is the unfolding ambition of the Labour Party to seek to control the second chamber as effectively as they control the first.

"They also seek to control the debate... they want to tell us what their preferred solution is and then we have all got to agree it.

"We have been asking for months, indeed for years, to seek a cross-party political consensus.

"The only people who don't want to discuss it, because they hate dissent, the idea that this would get out of their control, is the Labour Party themselves.

"That is why they have come up today with the kind of solution which suits absolutely nobody and unites everybody against the Government plans to maintain the culture of croneyism which increasingly affects the Labour Party.

"Only with [cross-party] consensus can you get lasting political reform in the second chamber."

Gerald Kaufman:

Gerald Kaufman
Mr Kaufman defended the recommendations of the commission
"What we want, what the Royal Commission proposed, was a House of Lords in which no party could ever have a majority, in which 20% would be members of no party, with no government control whatever of people who came into the House of Lords, with 30% of women rising to 50%, with far greater representation of the ethnic minorities, with representation of religions other than the Church of England, and with being a Lord not a qualification for membership of the second chamber, which in view in any case ought to be called the House of Senators.

"Now that is a real reform, not this mucking around on the fringes that people like Lord Strathclyde are suggesting.

"Democracy does not necessarily consist of having a second House of Commons."

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