Page last updated at 21:10 GMT, Tuesday, 21 June 2011 22:10 UK

An elected Lords would amount to 'abolition' - peer

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lee of Trafford, a former Tory MP and defence minister, has warned that creating an elected House of Lords would amount to the abolition of "a great British institution".

He told peers during the first day of a two-day debate on the coalition government's plans for a mainly elected second chamber on 21 June 2011 that he regarded the changes as "wholly unnecessary destruction".

Lord Lee went on: "The public mood does not indicate a wind of change; indeed there is barely a breeze out there. Most people are incredulous that we are even contemplating an elected house."

There was "near zero" media support for an elected house, he said, and "near zero" support from serious political commentators.

Reform would result in damage to the relationship between the two Houses, extra cost and a "huge loss of expertise", Lord Lee added.

He suggested that Lib Dem peers were split four ways between supporters of the reform, supporters of reform "but not now", those with private doubts, and supporters of an appointed House.

Lord Lee added: "Any attempt to use the Parliament Act to drive through this bill for an elected House would be a gross abuse and would stretch party loyalty to the limit.

"Reform, yes; abolition, no. If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he concluded.

Tory peer Baroness Noakes, also opposing reform, warned that she would speak at length in Lords debates on any substantive bill.

And Conservative former chief whip Lord Jopling warned that the issue, if pursued, would dominate the remainder of the five-year term of the current parliament.

Crossbencher Lord Low of Dalston noted that only four of the 27 peers who had spoken so far had supported an elected house.

Watch parts one and two of the debate.

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