Peers line up to block House of Lords reforms

Only 9 per cent would support plan for fully elected second chamber

Plans to turn the House of Lords into an elected chamber could be blocked by overwhelming opposition among peers, research for The Independent has revealed.

A ComRes poll of 100 peers shows a growing acceptance that constitutional reform is inevitable following the parliamentary expenses scandal. But the survey also shows there is little appetite for an elected second chamber of Parliament.

Both Labour and the Tories are expected to fight the general election on a pledge to bring in a largely elected Lords, but the survey suggests that road-blocking peers would fight tooth and nail to preserve their positions.

Sixty-three per cent of peers back the status quo and want the House to be entirely appointed, as it is at present. Only 9 per cent say the Lords should be fully elected, according to the representative cross-party sample. Just 18 per cent of those surveyed backed a partially elected and partially appointed chamber. Two per cent of the peers said the Lords should be abolished completely.

Some limited changes to the Lords will be included in a Constitutional Reform Bill to be unveiled today by the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw. For the first time, life peers will be able to resign their seats, while those who break the rules or commit criminal offences punishable with a year in jail could be expelled. At present, they can only be suspended. The 92 remaining hereditary peers would literally die out under the Bill. At present, when a member of the House of Lords dies, a by-election takes place among the hereditary peers who in 1999 lost their 700-year-old right to sit and vote in the House.

Later this year, the Government will publish a separate Bill to reform the composition of the Lords. The measure includes a proposal for either an 80 or 100 per cent elected second chamber. But it will have no chance of becoming law before the general election, leaving whoever forms the next government to pick up the mantle of reform.

While an elected Lords has risen up the political agenda following the expenses controversy, the ComRes findings highlight how difficult it would be to persuade members of the upper house to pass the necessary legislation. Although Labour or the Tories could use the Parliament Act, which allows the Commons to override the Lords, senior figures in both parties admit that they might shy away from a two-year pitched battle with peers and shelve plans for an elected Lords.

The expenses claimed by peers as well as MPs have been the subject of great controversy over the past few months and 63 per cent of those surveyed in the ComRes poll admitted they thought that peers would be viewed more negatively as a result of the revelations. Twenty-four per cent disagreed.

However a clear majority – 75 per cent – of peers thought that public anger with politicians was based on dissatisfaction about wider issues rather than expenses. Eighteen per cent disagreed.

According to the poll, a minority – 35 per cent – of peers believe that constitutional reform should be one of the top items on the political agenda, while 60 per cent do not. Only 3 per cent favour any form of Lords reform.

Some 68 per cent of peers think people should be appointed to the Lords for their expertise rather than for party-political reasons, while 25 per cent disagree.

Meanwhile, 42 per cent back the independent oversight of parliamentary pay and expenses. Thirty-three per cent support more powers for select committees and 16 per cent want MPs elected by proportional representation.

Fifty-four per cent of peers agree that religious representation in the Lords should reflect the religious make-up of the country as a whole, while 23 per cent disagree.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices