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Stumbling Through 'Stage Two': New Labour and House of Lords Reform

Dorey, Peter 2008. Stumbling Through 'Stage Two': New Labour and House of Lords Reform. British Politics 3 (1) , pp. 22-44. 10.1057/palgrave.bp.4200077

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After more than 10 years in Office, New Labour has still not completed ‘stage two’ of House of Lords reform, and in spite of the March 2007 vote by MPs in favour of an 80 or 100% elected Second Chamber, there remains considerable disagreement within the Labour Party, at all levels, over precisely how the composition of the Upper House should be determined, now that most of the hereditary peers have been removed. Although many Labour MPs support a (more) democratic Upper House, they remain unable to agree on whether all, or only some, members of the Upper House should be elected, and by what method. There are also many Labour parliamentarians, who fear that an elected Second Chamber would acquire sufficient democratic legitimacy to challenge the House of Commons (and the government therein) on a much more regular and damaging basis. Now that most of the hereditary peers have been removed, these Labour MPs reason, the House of Lords is more politically representative than it has ever been, and should thus be left intact. Meanwhile, Labour MPs who want to abolish the House of Lords also fear that democratisation will enhance the legitimacy of the Second Chamber, and so often find themselves reluctantly endorsing a non-elected Second Chamber as the lesser of two evils. These intra-party divisions, clearly discernible in the votes held on proposals for reform in 2003 and 2007, coupled with the Labour leadership's determination to defend the primacy of the House of Commons, and the tacit acceptance of the Westminster Model, have ensured that after more than 10 years in Office, ‘stage two’ of House of Lords reform is still far from complete.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Uncontrolled Keywords: legitimacy, representative, elected, appointed, Westminster Model
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN: 1746-918X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:15

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