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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 21:04 GMT
At-a-glance: Lords reform
MPs have voted in favour of an all-elected House of Lords. Here are the main details of reform plans put forward by the government:

MAKE-UP OF THE LORDS

  • A White Paper suggests that at least some members be elected in future to the reformed House of Lords - which could be renamed and no longer restricted to peers.

  • MPs chose to back two of the options on offer - voting in favour both of having a fully elected and an 80% elected second chamber.

  • They also voted for the remaining 92 hereditary peers to be removed.

  • The decisions will not pass into law but are likely to inform government policy if it drafts a bill on Lords reform.

  • Commons leader Jack Straw has promised to set up a cross-party group to look at further reform of the Lords.

    ELECTIONS

  • Mr Straw's White Paper on Lords reform recommends using the regional constituencies used for the European Parliament.

  • Parties would produce lists of candidates with members elected via some form of proportional representation, using a "partially open list" system.

  • These lists should represent the "diversity" of UK society, with the White Paper saying there will be consultation on whether this would be mandatory.

    HOW LONG COULD ELECTED MEMBERS SERVE?

  • Every five years, one third of elected seats would be up for election.

  • Elected members would have a single term in office of 15 years. They could not stand for re-election.

    APPOINTEES

  • If appointees are to remain, the White Paper says parties could pick 60%, with the remainder being non-political.

  • Just like their elected counterparts, a third of appointed members would have to be replaced every five years.

  • Members who were elected could not later be appointed - and vice versa.

  • Appointed members could also only serve a maximum of 15 years, unlike current "life" peers, who remain peers until they die.

    PEERAGES

  • The White Paper says it would be "odd" if members of the reformed house, serving for a fixed period, should be "given a lifetime honour simply to enable them to do a job".

  • Peerages would "continue as an honour but unconnected with a seat in Parliament".

  • However, it is likely "that many people of distinction holding a seat in the reformed Lords would receive this honour".

    SIZE OF THE HOUSE

  • Mr Straw wants to reduce the number of members from 746 to 540.

  • He proposes a lengthy transition period for existing members, with no current peers being forced to leave and those who choose to go early possibly getting a retirement package.

  • There would be no reduction of the 26 Lords places given to Anglican bishops and archbishops.

    LORDS POWERS

    The White Paper says the "primacy" of the Commons over the Lords has to remain and the Lords should not become a "rival" but "complement" the other chamber. It would retain its role in revising and scrutinising legislation. Having some elected members would make the Lords more "legitimate" but not give it parity with the Commons, the White Paper argues.

    NEW NAME?

  • The White Paper recommends referring to the House of Lords as the "reformed chamber", with Mr Straw's committee promising to consult on a final name.



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