Tensions between Brown and Starmer over House of Lords reform plan

Tensions between Brown and Starmer over House of Lords reform plan <i>(Image: PA)</i>
Tensions between Brown and Starmer over House of Lords reform plan (Image: PA)

GORDON Brown’s call for the House of Lords to be replaced with an elected second chamber could take longer than planned after Sir Keir Starmer suggested it might not be deliverable in the first term of a Labour government.

The former prime minister is due to publish a wide-ranging review of the UK constitution tomorrow, with moving to an elected second chamber due to be a key focus.

However, peers have warned that scrapping the Lords could mean Sir Keir using "up a lot of political capital at the expense of other domestic reforms if he goes too fast on this.”

One peer told the Observer: “It sounds a good idea but, in the past, attempts to reform the Lords have led into a political quagmire.”

The report is due to be unveiled by Mr Brown, and Sir Keir in Leeds tomorrow morning.

The two will be joined by Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar for an event in Edinburgh in the afternoon.

The former leader was commissioned to undertake the review two years ago, in a bid to woo back voters who had turned to the SNP in Scotland and the Tories in the north of England.

One source told the paper: “Gordon is insisting Keir endorse it all, and wants a headline about Lords abolition … but the leadership don’t.”

Another source close to Mr Brown said: “Gordon’s not interested in just putting recommendations in there for the sake of it. The expectation is that everything that is in the report will become party policy. If he thought Keir wasn’t on board, he wouldn’t be recommending it.”

Speaking to the Times about when he could deliver change, Sir Keir said: “The answer is that this is the bit of the discussion that comes after Monday, because that’s testing the propositions, refining them, and then crucially answering, thinking when and how this is implemented.

“What will require legislation, what won’t require legislation, whether we want to do each of the steps. The purpose of that is to craft a manifesto that says this is the overall project, these are the bits we intend to do in the five years, this is the delivery you can expect to see.”

 

The report is also understood to have 40 recommendations, including plans for radical devolution of powers to the regions in “the biggest transfer of power out of Westminster ever”.

It will also suggest trust in politics can be restored by banning second jobs for MPs.

The party intends to launch a consultation on the recommendations with many expected to be incorporated into Labour’s next manifesto.

In an article for this weekend’s Observer, Sir Keir said Mr Brown’s proposals “will set the path for the biggest ever transfer of control from Westminster back to the British people.

"It means that at the next election, Labour will stand on a promise of new powers for towns, cities, regions and nations to reignite our economy, while scrapping unaccountable ones in Westminster to restore trust in our politics.

“This is a matter of personal conviction for me. I have always believed that the people best placed to decide what works in Stirling, Sunderland or Swansea are the people there.

“If we expect these places to drive growth we must first hand them the keys. But as well as bringing people closer to decision making, I want to change the very idea of who our politics serves.

“The way this Tory government keeps blithely putting up taxes, while endlessly pearl clutching over the prospect of oil companies or non-doms or Eton College paying their fair share leaves working people with one sense: that Britain is being run for someone, but that it isn’t them. That will change.”