Campaigners welcome new Labour commitment to ‘abolish’ the House of Lords

Posted on the 16th September 2019

  • For immediate release – statement from the Electoral Reform Society
  • For more information contact Jon Narcross, Communications Officer jon.narcross@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07794728820

Democracy campaigners have welcomed an announcement today by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard that a Corbyn led Labour government would look to abolish Parliament’s unelected second chamber.

The Electoral Reform Society has welcomed the proposals that would see the House of Lords replaced by a fully elected upper chamber with representation from across the UKs nations and regions [1].

Labour’s commitment comes just days after the appointment on 19 new unelected peers were announced as part of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation honours further expanding the size of the upper chamber that is already home to nearly 800 members [2].

The announcement follows proposals made earlier this year by Baroness Bryan, constitutional adviser to Jeremy Corbyn MP that launched the parties view into its constitutional policy.

The proposals launched at an ERS fringe meeting at Scottish Labour Conference made the call for called for ‘total reform’ of the House of Lords and a ‘new relationship’ between Scotland and Westminster [3].

Making the announcement Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said:
“We are presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. To change the direction of political travel in the UK in a way not seen since the 1980s. Our time is coming. And it may be coming quicker than anyone expected…

“I truly believe that we have that era-defining change within our grasp. A radically better Scotland in a radically better, socialist, United Kingdom. If we can stick together, and fight together, another world really is possible.”

Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour Leader said:
“The next Labour Government’s success will depend critically on its determination to rebalance power in our constitution and in our institutions in order to deepen and extend democracy.

“This will be a not only be a necessary accompaniment to economic, social and environmental reform – it will be its very essence.

“So that’s why we are proposing the abolition of the House of Lords and its replacement with an elected second chamber: a Senate of the Nations and Regions that could begin the process of reshaping our political system.

“A federal system could be built on a principle of co-determination, of shared powers based on partnership not hierarchy.

“It would allow both subsidiarity and solidarity.”

Responding to the announcement Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society said:
“We welcome today’s announcement that in Government, Labour would abolish the House of Lords.

“For too long the unelected and unaccountable Lords has been an embarrassment to our politics. Nothing more than a bloated private members club for an elite.

“A fully elected second chamber would transform the balance of power in Westminster. Fairly elected, with representation from all nations and regions it would be an example for the rest of our politics as how a modern, representative chamber would look.

“This announcement could not be more timely. Just this week it 19 new members of the Lords were announced in Theresa May’s honours list. Yet more grubby giveaways to political supporters and party donors – all given a seat for life to make our laws.

“It’s time to end this feudal relic, and create a Parliament fit for a modern democracy.”

ENDS

[1] Richard Leonard’s Speech: https://scottishlabour.org.uk/media/richard-leonard-speech-democracy-needs-renewal/

John McDonnell’s speech: https://labour.org.uk/press/john-mcdonnell-speech-glasgow-presented-opportunity-lifetime/
[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/resignation-honours-2019
[3] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/corbyns-lead-constitutional-reformer-moves-party-towards-federalism-and-lords-overhaul-at-ers-event/

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