Labour ‘WILL abolish’ the ‘indefensible’ House of Lords… but when? Keir Starmer risks clash with Gordon Brown as he desperately dodges pledging to scrap upper Chamber in first five years after winning power

  • Gordon Brown calling for abolition of the ‘indefensible’ House of Lords in report
  • Keir Starmer dodged on whether the policy would happen in first Labour term  
  • Ex-PM’s report proposes replacing it with an ‘Assembly of Nations and Regions’ 

Keir Starmer risked a clash with Gordon Brown today as he desperately dodged committing to abolish the House of Lords in a first Labour term.

Sir Keir agreed with the former PM – who has written a report on reforming democracy and devolution for the party – that the upper chamber is ‘indefensible’.

However, he desperately dodged when pressed over whether that would happen in the first five years if he wins power.

The issue could prove to be a flashpoint when Sir Keir launches the report alongside Mr Brown in Leeds later. 

The long-awaited blueprint will propose an elected alternative called the Assembly of Nations and Regions, along with measures to tackle corruption. 

However, there is speculation that Labour’s manifesto will only pledge to consult on reform. 

Pressed on the timeframe for scrapping the Lords – something previous Labour governments stopped short of doing – Sir Keir told BBC Breakfast: ‘I think the House of Lords is indefensible. Anybody who looks at the House of Lords would struggle to say that it should be kept.

‘So we want to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber that has really strong mission.’

Asked how much of a priority this would be for Labour, Sir Keir said: ‘I’m very keen that all of the recommendations in the report are carried out as quickly as possible. So we will now have after today a process of consultation testing the ideas… with a view to how do we implement them?’

He said all the recommendations in the report, including the proposal to abolish the House of Lords, are ‘deliberately written in a way that means they can be implemented within the first five years of a Labour government’.

Keir Starmer risked a clash with Gordon Brown today as he desperately dodged committing to abolish the House of Lords in a first Labour term

Keir agreed with the former PM (pictured) – who has written a report on reforming democracy and devolution for the party – that the upper chamber is ‘indefensible’ 

Sir Keir desperately dodged when pressed over whether the abolition of the House of Lords (pictured, during the state opening) would happen in the first five years if he wins power

Sir Keir told BBC Radion 4’s Today programme: ‘Obviously after today we’re going to have a consultation about implementing the recommendations in the report.

‘I want the discussion about implementation to take place before the election so that we can get on at the election and put into place the recommendations.

‘Exactly what happens when is part of the discussion about implementation.’

Mr Brown, who has been working on the Labour Party-commissioned report since 2020, is adamant change is needed.

He said: ‘The current House of Lords is indefensible. Every second chamber in the world, with very few exceptions, is relatively small and usually smaller than the first chamber. 

‘We’ve now got a House of Lords that has got 830 members. That is compared with the American senate which has 100 members to cover 300million people.’

He added the issue of Lords reform will ‘come to a head again when Boris Johnson has a resignation honours list’.

As well as abolishing the House of Lords, Mr Brown said a ‘new anti-corruption agency will be set up under Labour’, with the Integrity and Ethics Commission set up to replace existing ‘ad hoc bodies’. 

Mr Brown’s report also proposes the creation of a citizens’ jury to oversee the system and whether ‘enforcement of it is to the public’s satisfaction’. 

The former PM insisted there would be a ban on second jobs for MPs if Labour wins the next election, though he indicated there could be an exemption to that for those MPs who need to work to maintain professional qualifications such as doctors and lawyers. 

This would include Sir Geoffrey Cox, who earns hundreds of thousands of pounds as a barrister on top of his MP’s salary. 

Mr Brown added: ‘The criticisms people have of Westminster, Whitehall are very strong, and change has got to be important to sorting that out.’ 

He insisted the House of Lords was ’emblematic of that’, claiming there is a feeling that many peers have been given roles there ‘simply because they have been friends with the Conservative Party and not because of their contribution to public policy’. 

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