Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Wednesday, 22 June 2011 20:28 UK

Government ready to 'adapt' Lords reforms

Lord McNally, the deputy leader of the House of Lords, has said the government is ready to "adapt" proposals to reform the upper house.

Speaking at the end of a marathon two-day debate on 22 June 2011, Lord McNally told peers: "The government is ready to listen, we are prepared to adapt, but we are determined to act."

Winding up the debate Lord McNally told peers: "My suggestion is that the two Hansards of the debate, the Wakeham report, the Cunningham report, the Jack Straw white paper and the white paper accompanying this bill be the joint committee's summer reading. And we shall now all wish them well and let them get on with that work."

Earlier, Conservative peer Baroness Hooper strongly criticised Lords reform proposals and said that ideally she would return to the days before the majority of hereditary peers were removed from the House under the previous government.

Baroness Hooper, a member of the House for 26 years, said: "As far as I am concerned, the post-1999 House of Lords is no better, no more democratic, no more able to defeat the government or ask the House of Commons to think again and does not have a greater breadth of expertise.

"It is certainly less independent, more partisan and more expensive."

She added: "I am a natural Conservative in that I do not like change for the sake of change. If changes have to be made then it has to be shown they are changes for the better.

"The 1999 reform Act did not achieve that. A wholly appointed House is not an improvement, although I can understand that those who have become members since 1999 are able to persuade themselves that it is now a much improved place.

"If I had a magic wand I would use it to return to the pre-1999 position."

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Phillips of Sudbury opposed the concept of an elected House and questioned the quality of people who would stand for election.

He said he believed "strongly" the government's plans should be put to a referendum.

"We are not just changing this House in the course of this bill, we are uprooting it," he said.

Watch part one of the debate.


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