Britain’s Labour party officially announced plans on December 5, 2022 to abolish the country’s unelected legislative chamber, the House of Lords, and replace it with an elected chamber, if the party is elected. The announcement was included in a larger report of 40 proposals , titled , ‘A New Britain: Renewing Our Democracy and Rebuilding Our Economy’ , written by a commission led by former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
“Look, I think the House of Lords is indefensible. Anybody who looks at the House of Lords would struggle to say that it should be kept,” Labour leader Keir Starmer, who commissioned the report, told the BBC on Monday morning. Currently the House of Lords, which traces its origins back to the 11th Century, consists of life peers, ‘spiritual’ peers (church officials) and hereditary peers.
While the official announcement was made on December 5, Labour’s plans, including those for the House of Lords, were already public after a draft report was leaked to the British press in September. The Brown report recommended that a smaller ‘Assembly of the Nations and Regions’ replace the House of Lords. It also recommended new powers for Scotland and Wales. For Northern Ireland, the report calls for “restored and strengthened” devolution that is consistent with the Good Friday Agreement (i.e., the 1998 peace treaty for the region).
December 5’s report also outlined plans to send 50,000 government jobs out of London and across the U.K., which it says will save GBP 200 million per year. It recommended that Scotland be allowed to join international bodies and participate in international agreements.
Stopping short of committing to implementing them during the first term of a Labour government, Mr Starmer said all the recommendations would be implemented as “quickly as possible” and that all the recommendations were written in a way that they could be implemented with the first five years of a Labour government.
Speaking at the University of Leeds on Monday morning, Mr Starmer said there will now be a period of consultation which will determine when and how the recommendations can be implemented.
The parliamentary leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru, Liz Saville Roberts, criticised the proposed difference in devolved powers for Scotland and Wales in the report.
“Scotland is rewarded while Labour is content for Wales to make do and mend with piecemeal powers,” she said, according to the BBC.
Deputy leader of Scottish National Party (SNP) Keith Brown called the proposed plan “underwhelming” as per reports in the British press and accused Labour of “vague platitudes and empty promises”.