MPs' revolt threatens proposal for Lords

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Plans to reform the House of Lords might be rewritten with an increase in the number of elected members to avoid a revolt by backbench Labour MPs.

Robin Cook, the Leader of the Commons, said yesterday that there was "still room for us to find a consensus on the number of elected members" and promised a full Commons debate on the issue.

Labour MPs complained about the "wholly inadequate" number of elected members suggested in a White Paper on Wednesday. The document proposed electing 120 of the 600 members. Most others would be picked from party lists.

Martin Salter, Labour MP for Reading West, said: "The wholly inadequate proportion of elected members ... almost guarantees there is not a snowball's chance in hell of achieving the consensus that you seek on these benches, never mind across the House as a whole or the country at large."

David Winnick, the Labour MP for Walsall North, said: "Hopefully in the consultation it will be recognised that the minimum number of elected members should certainly not be less than one-third."

Eric Forth, the shadow Leader of the Commons, said the plans had been greeted with a "universal raspberry".