Parliament Lords Reform: Labour peer supports `regional list' for Lords

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The Independent Online
LORD RICHARD, the former Labour leader of the Lords, is on a collision course with his successor, Baroness Jay, over proposals that the reformed House of Lords should be directly elected.

The peer, who was dropped from the Cabinet by Tony Blair in a reshuffle last year, came out in favour of a regional list system, which would allow elections to the Lords, but leave the choice of elected peers to the party leaders according to their share of the vote.

Ministers are privately opposed to the idea of direct elections to the Lords on the grounds that it would challenge the authority of the Commons. In a book to be published today, Unfinished Business, written with his former ministerial special adviser, Damien Welfare, Lord Richard says: "The best system... would be that of the regional list recommended by the Plant Committee. It enables the second chamber to be representative of the widest possible range of opinion in an area."

The Government has avoided committing itself to either appointing or electing peers to the Lords, pending the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Lords reform, which is due to report by the end of the year.

Lord Wakeham, chairman of the commission, yesterday published a consultation document, announcing plans to hold public meetings across the country in May, June and July and inviting comments on the issues.

`Unfinished Business', Ivor Richard and Damien Welfare, Vintage Books pounds 6.99; Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords, 4 Central Buildings, Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9NL