Peers who are jailed or who don’t show up will be expelled from Lords

Liberal Democrat ministers also want to give life peers, who are eligible to sit in the Lords until they die, the opportunity to retire

Peers who have been jailed or who fail to attend Parliament for long periods will be expelled from the House of Lords under watered-down plans to reform Britain’s second chamber.

In what has been dubbed “House of Lords reform lite”, Coalition ministers have agreed to support legislation that would also allow peers to voluntarily retire if they feel they can no longer contribute effectively.

However there will be no move to get rid of 92 hereditary peers who still sit in the Lords as such a move was considered “too difficult” to get through Parliament.

The changes, to be unveiled in the autumn, will be seen as a tacit admission by the Liberal Democrats that more fundamental Lords reform is unlikely to happen even if they play a part in the next Government.

In principle Labour still favours a mainly elected second chamber, but there are splits on the issue within the party – especially in the Lords itself.

The appointment of 30 new peers on Thursday has swelled the Lords to 836 members, putting it on course to rival the Chinese National People’s Congress as the largest legislature in the world.

Under the proposals, peers who do not attend the House or who have quit the country will be told to retire. And those who have been given custodial sentences of a year or more will be stripped of their peerages.

At present MPs lose their seats automatically if they are sentenced to more than a year in prison, but peers are simply banned from the Lords for the duration of their sentence or for the period when they are bankrupt.

If the changes are applied retrospectively they could affect the Tory peer and bestselling novelist Lord Archer, who was jailed for four years for perjury and perverting the course of justice in 1987.

Liberal Democrat ministers, with the support of the Tory Cabinet Office Minister, Oliver Letwin, also want to give life peers, who are eligible to sit in the Lords until they die, the opportunity to retire. They would keep their titles but lose the right to claim allowances and vote on legislation.

Ministers also want to tackle the huge levels of absenteeism. Around 50 peers are understood to have moved abroad and they are expected to lose their places in the Lords.

Hundreds more peers seldom or never speak in the upper chamber but are able to claim allowances of £300 a day simply for attending.

A senior Liberal Democrat source made clear that the party would rather have an elected chamber, but that the coalition plans to tackle the worst elements of the existing rules.

“The current system is archaic, as we’ve seen this week,” the source said. “Any other reforms must not be seen as a substitute for meaningful democratic reform of the Lords.

“But we are looking at those areas… which are crying out for reform: some sort of retirement plan, dealing with those who have been convicted of criminal offences and those who never turn up or live abroad.”

Senior sources say the Bill will not be standalone but that clauses to clean up the Lords will be added to another piece of relevant legislation.

Lords reform

What they wanted… 

* A 450 member hybrid house, of which 80 per cent of members would be elected. A further 20 per cent would be appointed, and reserve space would be included for some Church of England Bishops.

* Members would serve single non-renewable terms of 15 years.

* Former MPs would be allowed to stand for election to the Upper House, but members of the Upper House would not be immediately allowed to become MPs.

And what they’ll get…

* An appointed House of Lords

* Peers who are jailed for more than a year can be expelled.

* Peers who fail to attend over a period of time could be removed while member of the House of Lords would also be able to retire.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister

Met Police confirm it was a 'minor disturbance' and no-one was arrested

News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Concerns raised phenomenon is threatening resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf plays a World War II soldier in forthcoming drama Fury
films

Eccentric Fury star, 28, reveals he is 'not a really confident actor'

Life and Style
Time and Oak have developed a product that allows drinkers to customise the flavour and improve the quality of cheaper whiskey
food + drink

Sport
football

Peter Biaksangzuala died from his injuries in hospital on Sunday

Life and Style
The final 12 acts will be facing Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Mel B and Louis Walsh tonight
fashion

The X Factor's judges colourful outfit was mocked by Simon Cowell

News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

News
people
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

Software Developer

£35000 - £45000 Per Annum Pensions Scheme After 6 Months: Clearwater People So...

Systems Analyst / Business Analyst - Central London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Busines...

Senior Change Engineer (Network, Cisco, Juniper) £30k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Senior Change Engineer (Windows, Linux, VMWare) - London £35k

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Senior Change ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past