Page last updated at 22:25 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 23:25 UK

Lords reform debate: part three

MPs exhibit "barely a glimmer of understanding" of the Lords, Labour peer Lord Faulkner of Worcester has said.

During a full day's debate on the case for reform of the upper chamber on 29 June 2010, Lord Faulkner, who was a government whip until last month's election argued that the coalitions plan to create an elected House of Lords would "irretrievably weaken" its effectiveness.

But he warned that some MPs believed that support for the current system among peers "is motivated purely by self-interest and that it will somehow melt away if we can be bought off by some vague offer of grandfather rights for existing members".

"That, I have to say, I find pretty insulting," he said.

"The great majority of us are opposed to a predominantly or entirely elected House because we believe the effectiveness of a second chamber will be irretrievably weakened if it is replaced by an elected body in which crossbench members are absent and whose members are chosen by the party machine."

Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Jenkin of Roding warned that the path to an elected Lords, which he opposes, would not be smooth.

"Given the great weight of opinion in this House I think the government will have a very severe task indeed in trying of trying to force their legislation through Parliament," he said.

Labour former defence minister Lord Gilbert warned about the quality of members who would be attracted to an elected upper House.

He told peers: "You will get the sort of oik who couldn't get into the Commons, who couldn't get into Europe, who couldn't get into the Scottish Parliament, who couldn't get into the Welsh Assembly and probably couldn't get into a half-decent county council."

At the conclusion of the debate, peers voted in favour of a motion tabled by Lib Dem peer Lord Steel calling on the government - but not compelling it - to introduce interim reforms to enable peers to retire, to end by-elections for hereditary peers, to remove members convicted of a serious criminal offence and to put the House of Lords Appointments Commission on a statutory footing.

Watch part one and two of the debate here and here.


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