Page last updated at 09:12 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 10:12 UK

Ex-peers 'blocked from being MPs'

House of Lords at state opening of Parliament
All peers, apart from 92 hereditary peers, are appointed

Jack Straw is to amend plans allowing life peers to resign from the House of Lords, to stop them standing as an MP for up to five years, it is reported.

The FT reports the justice secretary wants a "cooling off" period inserted into the Constitutional Reform Bill.

Sources told the BBC the move was possible but not definite.

Plans to allow life peers to resign have led to speculation that Lord Mandelson could return to the Commons in a bid to be the next Labour leader.

But the business secretary, the former MP for Hartlepool who gave up his seat in 2004 and became EU trade commissioner, has played down the reports saying he had "no prospect and no plans of standing as leader of the Labour Party".

Hereditary peers have been able to resign from the House of Lords since 1963 but under current laws, life peers like Lord Mandelson cannot do so.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said proposals for the final stages of reforming the House of Lords would be published "as soon as Parliamentary time allows".

Mr Straw has previously said stopping life peers from standing immediately as MPs was an option.

The spokesman said: "This is a proposal we put forward in the 2008 White Paper to restrict former members of the upper chamber standing as MPs immediately upon ending their membership of the House of Lords.

"This will help create a distinction between the two chambers and ensure the complementary role of the second chamber."

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