Gordon Brown blasts House of Lords as ‘indefensible’ amid rumours Keir Starmer could rethink plan to scrap upper chamber
- Brown to propose an elected alternative called the Assembly of Nations and Regions
- The former PM said a ‘new anti-corruption agency will be set up under Labour’
- He insisted there would be a ban on second jobs for MPs if Labour wins
- This comes amid reports that Starmer may rethink his party’s plans for the Lords
Former prime minister Gordon Brown has said the House of Lords is ‘indefensible’ – as Labour prepares to water down its reform of the upper chamber.
Mr Brown will publish a report today proposing an elected alternative called the Assembly of Nations and Regions, along with measures to tackle corruption. But it comes amid reports that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer may rethink his party’s plans for the Lords.
The party may now pledge in its manifesto only to consult on reform. The move will infuriate Mr Brown, who has been working on the Labour Party-commissioned report since 2020.
He is adamant change is needed, saying: ‘The current House of Lords is indefensible. Every second chamber in the world, with very few exceptions, is relatively small and usually smaller than the first chamber. We’ve now got a House of Lords that has got 830 members. That is compared with the American senate which has 100 members to cover 300million people.’
Gordon Brown (left) will publish a report today proposing an elected alternative called the Assembly of Nations and Regions, along with measures to tackle corruption. But it comes amid reports that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) may rethink his party’s plans for the Lords
He added the issue of Lords reform will ‘come to a head again when Boris Johnson has a resignation honours list’.
As well as abolishing the House of Lords, Mr Brown said a ‘new anti-corruption agency will be set up under Labour’, with the Integrity and Ethics Commission set up to replace existing ‘ad hoc bodies’.
Mr Brown’s report also proposes the creation of a citizens’ jury to oversee the system and whether ‘enforcement of it is to the public’s satisfaction’.
The former PM insisted there would be a ban on second jobs for MPs if Labour wins the next election, though he indicated there could be an exemption to that for those MPs who need to work to maintain professional qualifications such as doctors and lawyers.
This would include Sir Geoffrey Cox, who earns hundreds of thousands of pounds as a barrister on top of his MP’s salary.
Mr Brown added: ‘The criticisms people have of Westminster, Whitehall are very strong, and change has got to be important to sorting that out.’
He insisted the House of Lords was ‘emblematic of that’, claiming there is a feeling that many peers have been given roles there ‘simply because they have been friends with the Conservative Party and not because of their contribution to public policy’.
Sir Keir Starmer told the Sunday Times: ‘Whether it’s the reforms in this report or more generally, it is realistically going to take more than one term for Labour to turn our country around.’
He added that consideration about ‘when and how this is implemented’ would come after Monday, when the report is published.