Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Tuesday, 26 October 2010 15:30 UK

Government faces call to scrap Lords reform

Ministers have been urged to scrap plans to make the House of Lords a directly elected chamber.

Labour peer Lord Grocott suggested that the government's proposal to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, while bringing in 300 elected peers, would result in a net annual cost to the taxpayer of £60m.

"At a time when the government is looking for any possible cuts in public expenditure that they can find, and given that none of these reforms have any support among anyone out in the real world, why does the minister not do the common-sense thing, save the money and scrap the lot?" he asked.

Deputy Leader of the upper House Lord McNally said the cost of such a change was still being worked out.

"The noble Lord is giving numbers for a reformed House of Lords and calculating on his own bases, we will have to wait for the bill," the Lib Dem peer replied.

"He and I will then make calculations and be able to assess the cost."

Other questions focused on public spending, small businesses, and cancer treatment on the NHS.

Before the question session, the Bishop of Birmingham took his seat in the Lords. The Rt Rev David Urquhart replaces the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, who has retired.

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