Boothroyd to fight Lords reform

By staff

Former Commons Speaker Betty Boothroyd has pledged to turn her forceful personality against plans to reform the House of Lords.

In a debate on the future of parliament’s upper House yesterday she suggested coalition plans to introduce elections for the Lords had been poorly thought through.

A committee set up this summer is expected to outline its proposals for the introduction of a wholly or mainly elected second chamber by the end of the year.

“Vague assurances on a vital issue of constitutional reform will simply not do,” Baroness Boothroyd told peers.

“Until we know precisely what powers a reformed second chamber will have, we cannot possibly subscribe to the wanton destruction of this House in the interests of a new political class that lacks acknowledged expertise and cherished independence of this institution.”

The last parliament saw the Commons vote in favour of a fully elected House with a majority of 113. An 80% elected House attracted a majority of 38, but the Lords rejected the proposals a week later by 361 votes to 121.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has pledged to overcome this opposition before 2015. His party’s enthusiasm for reform is not matched by coalition partners in the Conservative party.

Mr Clegg will appear before the Lords’ constitution committee tomorrow.