Blair sets out Lords reform

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The Independent Online

Political Editor

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, will today spell out how he intends to reform the House of Lords - by abolishing the rights of hereditary peers but making a limited number of them life peers.

In a major lecture, in memory of his predecessor, John Smith, designed to popularise Labour's commitment to radical constitutional reform, Mr Blair is also expected to make clear that he does not intend to use powers of patronage to pack the Upper House with new life peers.

But in an article in today's Independent, the Labour leader asks: "Why on earth should hereditary peers still be allowed to vote on legislation? It is completely undemocratic for such people to have a vote on Bills going through Parliament - and Labour intends to to legislate to remove their right to sit and vote." This, he writes, would be a start on the road towards an elected second chamber.

The Labour leader recommits himself in his article to annual elections for a quarter to a third of all local government councillors and to a Freedom of Information Act, which would include the right of members of the public to inspect personal files held on them by the Government.

Tony Blair, page 15