Keir Starmer has set out plans to abolish the âindefensibleâ House of Lords and replace it with a new elected chamber, as part of plans to ârestore trust in politicsâ.
The Labour leader has not committed to a timeframe for the move, but has said it would happen âas quickly as possibleâ and ideally within the first term of a Labour government.
The sweeping constitutional overhaul is part of a 40-point plan written by former prime minister Gordon Brown for a âNew Britainâ under the Labour party.
Sir Keir hailed the proposals for political and economic devolution as âthe biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British peopleâ at a joint press conference in Leeds on Monday.
He told BBC Breakfast: âI think the House of Lords is indefensible. Anybody who looks at the House of Lords would struggle to say that it should be kept.
âSo we want to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber that has a really strong mission.â
Asked how much of a priority this would be for Labour, Sir Keir replied: âIâm very keen that all of the recommendations in the report are carried out as quickly as possible. So we will now have after today a process of consultation testing the ideas... with a view to how do we implement them?â
He said all the recommendations in the report, including the proposal to abolish the House of Lords, are âdeliberately written in a way that means they can be implemented within the first five years of a Labour governmentâ.
Starmer said last month that the publicâs faith in the political system had been undermined by successive Tory leaders handing peerages to âlackeys and donorsâ.
The party is expected to confirm its plans in its next manifesto.
How does the House of Lords work?
The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Parliament. It is made up of around 800 peers.
It is independent from, and complements the work of, the elected House of Commons. The Lords shares the task of making and shaping laws and checking and challenging the work of the Government.
The Lords has three main roles:
In-depth consideration of public policy
Holding THE government to account
Why is the House of Lords so controversial?
Last year, the Conservative Party was accused of abusing the honours system by systematically offering seats in the House of Lords to a select group of multimillionaire donors who pay more than Â£3 million to the party.
An investigation by the Sunday Times and Open Democracy revealed that wealthy benefactors appeared to be guaranteed a peerage if they took on the temporary role as the party treasurer and increased their own donations beyond Â£3 million.
David Cameron was also accused of cronyism when he nominated almost 50 close aides, political allies, and Conservative donors for honours as part of his resignation honours list.
In 2006, Tony Blair became the first prime minister to be questioned by police as part of a political corruption inquiry that would drag on for 16 months.
An investigation was launched after SNP MP Angus MacNeil complained that four wealthy businessmen were nominated by Blair for peerages after lending the party a total of Â£5m.
All four of the peerages were blocked by the House of Lordsâ appointments commission, and MacNeilâs complaint launched a police investigation into whether laws banning the sale of honours had been broken.
What is the Salisbury Convention?
The Salisbury Convention is commonly understood to mean the House of Lords does not block government bills that seek to implement manifesto commitments. This means the Lords gives manifesto bills a second reading, does not subject them to wrecking amendments, and returns them to the Commons in reasonable time.
It was developed during the Labour government of 1945 to 1951.
At that time, Labour had a majority in the House of Commons but the Conservatives had a majority in the House of Lords. In his response to the Kingâs Speech of 1945, Viscount Cranborne argued the election result gave the Labour government a mandate for the proposals on which the electorate had voted. He said it would therefore be âconstitutionally wrongâ for the Lords to oppose their proposals.
He later recalled that, during this period, the opposition in the Lords passed Labourâs manifesto bills at second reading âalthough we cordially disliked themâ and did its best to âimprove them and make them more workable at committee stageâ.