Labour plans to replace House of Lords with elected senate

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Labour leader Ed Miliband plans to replace the House of Lords with an elected senate if the party wins the general election. Miliband believes the Upper House does not represent large parts of the British population.

“We will make the second chamber of Parliament truly a senate of the regions and nations of our whole country,” Miliband announced at the Labour Party’s North West regional conference in Blackpool on Saturday.

According to the proposal, the Upper House would examine legislation proposed by the House of Commons just like it does now. However, Miliband wants the new chamber to be based on representation of the regions and the four nations of the United Kingdom. This would take place on a regional basis and see the senate taking on a specific, defined, separate role from the Commons.

Each part of the state would meet prior to the constitutional convention, and people would be asked for views on the functions of the new senate – as well as the most appropriate form of election.

This would give the senate a “clearly defined different role,” the Labour Party said. “The House of Lords is one of the biggest pieces of unfinished business in our constitution.”

Miliband has produced figures showing the actual system is failing to represent large parts of the United Kingdom. For instance, London has more representatives in the House of Lords than several regions whose populations add up to roughly the same amount as the British capital.

Ed Miliband (Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett)

Ed Miliband (Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett)

“The North West has nearly the same population as London, but five times more members of the House of Lords are from London than from the North West,” Miliband said. “No wonder the recovery isn’t working for most parts of Britain when the voices of most parts of Britain aren’t being heard.”

The disagreement of how hereditary peers should be replaced has taken place for decades. Both Labour and Liberal Democrats previously called for reforms. The coalition government also drafted a House of Lords Reform Bill backed by Nick Clegg, which proposed mostly elected members for the Upper House, but dropped it in 2012.

Now the Labour Party is making new wider efforts to change the situation and prevent current supporters from moving to other parties such as UKIP.

“It’s time to reform the way we’re governed, it’s time every part of our country had a voice at the heart of our politics, it’s time to have a senate of the nations and regions which serves our whole country so that we can truly build a Britain that works for all and not just for some,” Miliband said.

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