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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test