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Friday, May 25, 2018

Labour need action not words on House of Lords reform

Jeremy Corbyn's decision to require all future Labour nominees to the House of Lords to sign up to abolition of the unelected second chamber is very welcome, but on past evidence the problem lies not in the other place (as MPs describe it) but with MPs themselves.

As the Guardian records, the Labour leader, who is a long-time advocate of replacing the upper house with an elected chamber, has already made the pledge a condition for the appointment of three new peers announced on Friday.

However, when it came to the crunch in 2012 and Nick Clegg needed the support of the Labour Party to put in place a timetable motion that would override the delaying tactics of a sizeable number of Tory MPs, Miliband and his pals bottled it and allowed the reform measure to die a death.

The problem, as Clegg will no doubt testify, is not the determination to reform but the precise nature of any change. There is a clear majority in the House of Commons for the current position to be scrapped, however there is no agreement whatsoever on what should replace it.

Until the reformers, including Corbyn and my own party can agree on a way forward it is unlikely that any of the new peers will ever be asked to vote to abolish themselves.
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