Renewed confusion over Lords reform

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Reform of the House of Lords was plunged into fresh confusion yesterday after proposals for limited changes to the upper chamber left MPs and peers bitterly divided.

Reform of the House of Lords was plunged into fresh confusion yesterday after proposals for limited changes to the upper chamber left MPs and peers bitterly divided.

The Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform split after it recommended drawing up proposals for removing the remaining hereditary peers and reforming the independent Appointments Commission for the Lords, sidestepping whether the Lords should be wholly or partly elected.

The report, produced after MPs failed to back any single option for a partly elected House of Lords in February, also put forward the idea of reducing the size of the upper chamber and setting fixed terms for peers. MPs and peers were urged not to lose the "momentum" for at least limited reform. It said Parliament "must now assert itself against the unworthy coalition of those who would not reform the House of Lords at all".

But nine senior members of the committee, including the former Conservative leader William Hague, the former chancellor Kenneth Clarke and the Liberal Democrat Commons leader, Paul Tyler, warned against "tinkering" with the Lords. Jack Cunningham, the ex-cabinet "enforcer" who heads the committee, called on ministers to support at least limited reform.

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