[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 20:03 GMT
MPs back all-elected Lords plan
House of Lords
MPs were presented with nine options for Lords reform
MPs have voted to reform the House of Lords by demanding all members are elected, rather than appointed.

There was a majority of 113 in favour of this proposal.

MPs, allowed more than one choice, also voted by a majority of 38 for 80% of members of a reformed second chamber being elected and the rest appointed.

The decisions will not pass into law but are expected to inform government plans. Commons leader Jack Straw called the votes "a historic step forward".

Mr Straw had put forward nine options, with the rest rejected by MPs.

'Mean business'

He pledged to bring a cross-party group together to discuss the next stage of reform.

Prime Minister Tony Blair voted in favour of a 50/50 split between elected and appointed members - also Mr Straw's preferred choice - but not for any other proposal.

All appointed house - rejected by 179 votes
20% elected - rejected, no vote
40% elected - rejected, no vote
Half elected/half appointed - rejected by 263 votes
60% elected - rejected by 214 votes
80% elected - backed by 38 votes
All elected - backed by 113 votes

Mr Straw told the BBC that MPs' decisions represented a "pretty seismic shift", saying : "The message was a very decisive and clear one in favour of reform of the existing House of Lords."

He added: "This is the first time there's been a clear view on this for 98 years, so it's progress.

"I mean business, so does the government and so, I think, do the other parties."

The votes follow two days of debate in the Commons.

An accident of birth should never entitle someone to pass the laws of this land
Neil Small, East Kilbride

Shadow Commons leader Theresa May said: "The House of Commons has clearly expressed a preference for a substantially or wholly elected House of Lords.

"But this is only a first step and indeed it raises further questions. Given the tactical voting tonight we now need to establish what the House of Commons' settled view is."

'Momentous step'

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said: "This is a truly historic occasion.

"After nearly 100 years the House of Commons has at last taken the momentous step to reform the upper house and make it fit for a modern democracy.

"This is a famous victory for progressive opinion both in Parliament and in the country."

A 'hybrid' of elected and appointed peers
Reduce size of House from 746 to 540 members
End hereditary and life peerages over time
Elected peers to be voted in at same time as Euro elections
Maximum time in office of 15 years for elected and appointed peers
Appointees a mixture of party politicians and non-party figures
Lords may be renamed - possibly 'The Reformed Chamber'
Anglican bishops and archbishops to keep seats

The last time the Commons voted on Lords reform, in 2003, all options were rejected.

At the moment all peers are appointed, apart from the 92 hereditary peers who survived the first phase of Lords reform during Tony Blair's first term in office.

In another vote, MPs decided by a majority of 280 to remove the remaining hereditaries.

The Scottish National Party's chief whip, Pete Wishart, said: "Party patronage is now at an end and that can only be good for our democracy."

The House of Lords debates the reform proposals next week.

Labour peer Lord Lipsey has published figures suggesting 1,092m as the cost for the proposed shake-up.

He said he used official figures and plausible assumptions to reach the estimate, but a government source dismissed that figure as based on "back-of-an-envelope calculations".

Political reaction to the vote

Q&A: House of Lords reform
07 Mar 07 |  UK Politics

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific