The Cabinet may try to rush proposals for an elected House of Lords through Parliament before the general election even though it is only months away.
The surprise move would put David Cameron on the spot. Although his party supports a mainly elected second chamber, it would not be a priority for a Tory government and the policy is opposed by many Tory peers.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, will say in a speech today that Lords reform is "unfinished business" and that the Government will bring forward "concrete proposals" in the next parliamentary session.
A Bill creating an 80 or 100 per cent elected Lords will be included in the Queen's Speech then. A Labour source revealed: "There are discussions within government on whether to push this to full legislation before the election or to have it in place ready for after the election. That remains a live issue. If David Cameron is serious about constitutional reform and a new kind of politics, he will support efforts to move forward with this vital legislation."
Even though the three main parties support reform, the Lords would almost certainly block the Bill's passage until after the election, which must be held by next June.
Yesterday the Tories dismissed Gordon Brown's fightback plan, disclosed in The Independent yesterday, under which public spending projects would be cut or delayed in addition to the £35bn efficiency savings already promised by the Government.
The Opposition claimed the Government was divided over Mr Brown's stance on public spending. Philip Hammond, the shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, said the Cabinet was "clearly uncomfortable with his dishonest claim that Labour will not cut spending after the next election."Reuse content