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Monday, October 12, 1998 Published at 11:58 GMT 12:58 UK

UK Politics

Reform the Lords with a 'bang' say Tories

Peers will be discussing Lords' reform later this week

Conservatives are urging a "big bang" solution to reform of the House of Lords as they fear the government may abolish the voting rights of hereditary peers without proposing details for the second stage of reform.

The Tory leader in the Lords, Viscount Cranborne, made the appeal following Sunday's announcement that the government is considering setting up a Royal Commission to look at the whole question of reforming the upper house.

[ image: Lord Cranborne:
Lord Cranborne: "one cheer" for the Royal Commission
But he underlined his fear that the government will forge ahead with a 'stage one' Bill in the Queen's Speech next month, ending the centuries-old right of hereditary peers to sit and vote, without first giving details of what the future shape of the upper chamber will be.

Big Bang

Lord Cranborne said: "The ideal, of course, would be to do the reform in one Big Bang.

"But I have always said if we can find a way of getting through stage one, which guarantees us stage two, then we could be in business.

"The ideal would be to drop the stage one Bill. After all, we have a promise of a Royal Commission report by the year 2000.

"If we have built a consensus in that period, it might be possible for the government to see legislation before the next election anyway."

The Lords themselves will be discussing the issue of reform later this week. Nearly 100 peers have already put their names down to speak in the two-day debate.

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