Tuesday 17 August 1999
Sir: I have always argued that Tony Blair's plans for the Lords risk creating a quango house of appointees.
The realities of the changes in the Lords are: Most of the independent members in Parliament will be expelled - replaced by a chamber controlled by appointees of the Prime Minister in power.
The House of Commons is no longer a check on an over powerful executive - neither will the House of Lords be if Mr Blair has his way.
The Prime Minister should wait for the report of the Royal Commission before changing the composition of the House of Lords. Mr Blair is in a headlong rush that could put the constitution of this country at the mercy of the executive of whichever government is in power.
The Prime Minister should agree to legislate for an independent statutory appointments commission. The House of Lords has already passed such an amendment. Unless he does this, any Prime Minster could have who he wants as a peer - whatever the merits of the person concerned.
Independent polls have shown voters in this country do not want any change that increases Prime Minister patronage. Voters want the Prime Minister pressed to reveal his full plans for reform before any dangerous interim measures are made.
Leader of the Opposition
House of Lords
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