Reforms to House of Lords may include elections

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Indy Politics

The Government is prepared to introduce a third stage of House of Lords reform which could include elections to the Upper House, says Lord Falconer, Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

In an interview with The Independent, Lord Falconer, said that the government was still keen to seek a "consensus" which would allow it to move to a further stage of reform, after the remaining hereditary peers are eliminated in the bill planned for the current parliamentary session.

In an effort to win round MPs and peers who fear that the fresh legislation would be the last Lords reform, Lord Falconer denied the government was seeking to "entrench" an all-appointed Upper House.

His remarks follow the decision by the Lords two weeks ago - for the first time in 90 years - to send back the Queen's Speech with an amendment decrying the Government's controversial plans for constitutional reform. The move, proposed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Lords Strathclyde, followed a barrage of complaints from peers and Law Lords about the proposedLords reform. The complainants also raised concern about proposals to abolish the Lord Chancellorship and replace the Law Lords with a new Supreme Court.

Lord Falconer admitted that it would be "unwise" to set a time by which the Government expected to see an elected element in the Lords. But he added: " Is [the Lord Reform bill] intended to entrench an all-appointed house? It is not. I am conveying the message as strongly as I can that the door is open and I'm keen for people to go through it."

Lord Falconer said that the joint Committee of both Houses would continue to sit in the hope of reaching a consensus either on reform proposals of its own or ones the government could make.