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Lord Strathclyde
"On balance we would favour a larger proportion of the house being elected so as to give it more authority."
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Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 14:07 GMT
Tories fear 'House of cronies'

The report proposes the chamber contain at least 30% women


The Conservatives have reacted with disappointment at the Wakeham Commission's proposals for Lords reform.

Lords Reform
Tory leader William Hague said it was "highly likely" the Conservatives would want a larger elected element in the Lords than is proposed in the Royal Commission's recommendations.

He said: "Our current prime minister has appointed 181 people to the Lords and if we are not careful we are going to have a House of Lords dominated by the cronies of the prime minister of the day.



I think we do need a large elected element as well as some people who have been made Lords because of what they have contributed to the life of this country.
William Hague
"I think we do need a large elected element as well as some people who have been made Lords because of what they have contributed to the life of this country."

Mr Hague accused the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, of not really having thought out how to improve the constitution.

He said: "He wanted to neuter the House of Lords so it was more compliant with the government of the day.

"Get rid of the hereditary peers, stuff it with a load of people from the Labour Party and then forget about it.

"That's really his strategy. So we've had this report, but don't expect the government to start acting on it."

The Tory leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde, echoed Mr Hague's concerns, saying: "We are very unlikely to go forward to a second stage reform this side of the general election.

"I do not sense the government is giving this any priority."

Lord Strathclyde: Wanted to see a "foundation stone"
He said: "I don't believe an appointed house gives the second chamber the authority it needs and sadly in the past, when we had a largely hereditary chamber, we won the arguments but we didn't have the political authority to oblige the government of the day to think again.

"That must change if we are serious about what we mean about having a stronger second chamber as part of a stronger Parliament."

Leader of the Lords Baroness Jay said the government would need time to consider the recommendations within the report, but added: "It is very welcome that the commissioners have produced a unanimous report as this provides a sound platform for moving forward on a genuine cross party basis."



We have no intention whatsoever of shelving further House of Lords reform.
Baroness Jay
She insisted the government would allow time for a proper debate of the bill and the report would not be put on a back-burner.

Lady Jay said: "We have no intention whatsoever of shelving further House of Lords reform."

Liberal Democrat constitutional affairs spokesman Robert Maclennan criticised the report as being "shot through with dismal, old-fashioned, self-serving clubby attitudes".

He said: "If its recommendations were to be given effect, the Lords would continue to be illegitimate and the public would properly disregard it.

"This is probably the least persuasive Royal Commission report to have been issued in my political lifetime.

"It is neither informed by democratic principle nor a practical concern to strengthen Parliament's capability to oversee the work of central government."



It is neither informed by democratic principle nor a practical concern to strengthen Parliament's capability to oversee the work of central government.
Robert Maclennan
Law Society president Robert Sayer said the government displayed a "disturbing level of contempt for even the most principled and well argued opposition to its legislative programme".

He continued: "A reformed House of Lords must have the power and authority to challenge the government, especially where the rights of the individual against the State are under threat."

Keith Porteous Wood, general secretary of the National Secular Society, said: "We regret that the Commission has not accepted our arguments against appointing additional religious representatives in its legislature as of right."

Pam Giddy, director of Charter88, said: "The reformed second chamber should be chosen by the people it is there to protect, rather than politicians it is there to keep a check on. That point is simple and it is fundamental, if faith is to be restored in the political process.

"In poll after poll it has been shown that the majority of people want a fully elected second chamber. This is not the end of the debate. There is plenty of time for the public to exert pressure and to get the second chamber that they want."

John Edmonds, leader of the GMB union, said: "The committee has made a brave attempt to answer an impossible question.

"A second chamber made up of nominated people had no place in a modern democracy."

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See also:
20 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Lords reform blueprint unveiled
20 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Lords reform proposals at a glance
20 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Lords report fails to satisfy

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