[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 17:01 GMT
Where now for Lords reform?
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

The fact that the House of Lords has voted to keep itself as a fully appointed chamber will have come as no surprise to anyone.

House of Lords
Lords have rejected MPs demands
Turkeys, after all, rarely vote for Christmas.

Of course, peers had many more substantial reasons to oppose the Commons' demand for a 100% - or at the very least 80% - elected upper chamber, other than attempting to ensure their own survival.

Primarily, many believe such a change would spark a constitutional clash over supremacy - whether the Commons could still insist on getting its way over a democratically legitimised Lords.

Others believe it would deprive the second chamber of the sort of expertise it now houses and be simply a reflection of the Commons.

So the votes in the Commons and Lords have ended with the two existing chambers at loggerheads.


That is what some of the MPs who backed a 100% elected Lords wanted. They actually favour a largely appointed upper chamber but voted for the opposite in order to produce deadlock and, they hope, kill the whole thing off.

Leader of the Commons Jack Straw
Mr Straw will have to find a way forward for reforms
They may, of course, have been too successful because the MPs' 113 majority in favour of a fully elected chamber was overwhelming and Commons leader Jack Straw has been clear in saying he will act on it.

And it now falls to him to try and map a way through this deadlock.

It would be possible for him to simply accept the will of the Commons and draw up legislation to that effect.

That would then lead to a prolonged, ping-pong battle between the two chambers which would take many months - perhaps running well into the next prime minister's reign.

First step

Whether either Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Jack Straw or anybody else relishes that idea is uncertain. It seems unlikely.

It is more likely Mr Straw will engage in another period of consultation before attempting to draw up some sort of draft proposal that might attract support across both Houses.

That would still not prove a simple or speedy solution and it would be risky to predict the outcome.

In any case, bearing in mind the clarity of the two opposing positions, there is no guarantee either House will be in a mood to compromise.

As was said after the Commons vote - this historic constitutional reform may have taken the first step forward but there is still an extremely long journey ahead.

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