Labor will consult on replacing what the party calls the ‘indefensible’ House of Lords with an elected chamber under a 40-point plan drafted by Gordon Brown to overhaul the constitution, but has not committed to its abolition in the manifesto.
Keir Starmer will join Brown on Monday for the launch of the former Prime Minister’s Commission on the Future of the UK, which is making recommendations on the reform of the Lords, the devolution of power and the future of the union.
The party said its centerpiece would involve a massive transfer of power from Westminster to people and their local areas, with Starmer saying “the center hasn’t delivered”.
Brown recommends cultivating “300 emerging clusters of the new economy” and eliminating “the bias of Westminster and Whitehall and giving everywhere a fair share of our future prosperity.”
Labor said one of Brown’s recommendations would be the abolition of the Lords, along with new rules to ‘end the undue influence of foreign wealth and money, and prevent MPs from working part time”.
Brown also recommends “tougher enforcement of the rules, with the public directly represented in a new integrity commission” for politicians and public life.
Brown’s 40 recommendations will now be subject to consultation, with the findings of this additional process found in Labour’s manifesto.
Abolition of the House of Lords would upset a centuries-old constitutional model and risk encountering resistance from existing peers. Lord McFall, the Lord Speaker and former Labor MP, is due to deliver a speech on Wednesday arguing for consensus reform of the Lords.
In comments published ahead of the Brown report, Starmer made no mention of the House of Lords, instead focusing on how Labor would bring “real economic empowerment to our devolved government, mayors and local authorities”. .
This would include new powers over transport and infrastructure, development and housing, such as mandatory purchase orders on vacant sites, and measures to stimulate growth.
“We have an unbalanced economy, which uses too little of the talents of too few people in too few places,” he will say on Monday. “We will have higher standards in public life, a greater distribution of power and opportunity, and better economic growth that benefits everyone, wherever they are. By setting our goals higher, wider, better, we can build a better future together. »
Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, said on Sunday that Labor will ensure there is an elected second chamber, and the plan is for this to be done in the first term. “We will consult before the manifesto on how we will achieve this,” she added.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Starmer said there were “implementation questions”, telling the paper: “The answer is that it’s the part of the discussion that comes after Monday because it’s is testing the proposals, refining them, and then crucially responding, thinking about when and how this is implemented.
“What will require legislation, what will not require legislation, if we want to do each of the steps. The point of this is to come up with a manifesto that says, “This is the overall project, these are the things we intend to do within five years, this is the delivery you can expect.”
Brown is believed to be more inclined towards abolishing the Lords than some other senior party officials, who fear a lengthy public debate on constitutional reform could overshadow more important priorities in a first-term Labor government.
This article was edited after its initial publication to correct the claim that Lord McFall had previously been a Tory MP. He was indeed a Labor MP from 1987 to 2010.