Will Keir Starmer, Labor leader, abolish the House of Lords?

The proposal was unveiled alongside a new report from the Labor Party, which Keir Starmer said would constitute “the largest transfer of power from Westminster and Whitehall” our country “has ever seen”.

The pledge was unveiled alongside Labor’s new ‘New Britain’ report, which proposes far-reaching reforms to the UK’s political system. It was created jointly by Starmer and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who together outlined the plans as they spoke at a joint press conference in Leeds, England, on Monday (December 5).

The report includes 40 recommendations for Britain, including calls for giving local communities more power over skills, transport, planning and culture in order to drive growth. But the plan to abolish the House of Lords is one of the most noteworthy, as the chamber had been a central feature of the British Parliament for centuries.

Starmer said the proposals in the report, which were commissioned two years ago and released by Brown, would constitute “the largest transfer of power from Westminster and Whitehall” that “our country has ever seen”. As he told an audience in Leeds: “You are bound… by a system that hoards power in Westminster. I am determined to untie ourselves and free our potential.”

So what exactly is the House of Lords, what would it mean for the UK if it were abolished, and what else did Starmer and Brown say? Here’s what you need to know.

Keir Starmer has pledged to abolish the House of Lords in Labour’s first term. Credit: PA/Getty Images

What is the House of Lords?

The Parliament of the United Kingdom consists of two “chambers” – the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

By contrast, the House of Lords is not elected – which means that the public does not vote for who sits in that chamber of Parliament. Instead, members are set in three different ways:

Prime Ministers also often take companions for life when they retire (examples include Margaret Thatcher and Harold Wilson), but some choose not to – such as Edward Heath and John Major. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are yet to receive a peerage.

As the name suggests, hereditary peers become members of the House of Lords through birthright—aka eligibility, passed down through the family. However, as of the House of Lords Act 1999, their place in the Chamber is no longer automatically birthright.

Despite this, there are currently still 91 hereditary peers sitting in parliament.

The last group in the House of Lords is the group of Lords Spiritual, which consists of 26 bishops from the Church of England. These places are held by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, as well as the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester, while the remaining 21 places are filled by a mixture of the longest-serving bishops, who qualify under the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015.

The number of bishops in the House of Lords is fixed by law at 26, and when a bishop retires from office (which is mandatory at 70), they also vacate their seat in the House of Lords. Members of the Lords Spiritual are sometimes appointed as peers for life after they have retired.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech on the future growth plans of the United Kingdom at the Nexus, University of Leeds on December 5, 2022 in Leeds, United Kingdom. Credit: Getty Images

What is its role?

The House of Lords has three main functions: to make laws, to investigate public policy, and to hold government to account. It is less powerful than the elected House of Commons, because it cannot remove the government from office and can only delay, rather than veto, most bills.

However, he still plays a role in making laws – most bills must pass through both chambers of Parliament – and helps check and amend laws entering Parliament.

Will the House of Lords be abolished?

If Labor wins the next election and Starmer becomes UK Prime Minister, the House of Lords appears to be on its way out. Instead, a new, democratic second chamber would be created – to be called the Assembly of Nations and Territories.

Brown, who produced the report on the UK’s political future, explained that “every second chamber in the world, with very few exceptions, is relatively small and usually smaller than the first chamber. And we now have the House of Lords with 830 members. This is compared to the US Senate Which includes 100 members to cover 300 million people – [while] We have an 800-plus House of Lords covering just 60 million people.”

He concluded that this meant the current system was “untenable”, and added that it was felt that many in the House of Lords were there “just because they were friends with the Tory party and not because of their contribution to public policy”, warning that the case for reform “would come to an end”. Climaxing again” when Boris Johnson unveils his resignation honors roll.

Former Labor Prime Minister, Gordon Brown speaking in Leeds, England. Credit: Getty Images

The new chamber will include representatives from the countries and regions of the UK, with the aim of returning power to local areas and “protecting the transfer of power”. Speaking in Leeds, Starmer blasted “Treasure[ing] of power in Westminster” and described the British Parliament as “a regime that arrogantly believes it knows the skills, transport, planning and support jobs West Yorkshire needs better than the people who live here.” “

Holborn and St Pancras MP continued: “I have always been convinced that this broken model has held back our politics and our economy.” He added that he hoped the Chamber would be abolished “as quickly as possible”, and aimed particularly at hereditary peers, saying, “The sooner we can abolish it, the better.”

What was the response?

While some were supportive of the proposal, as the House of Lords had been for a time a more controversial aspect of British political power, others criticized the plans.

Former Settlement Minister Simon Clarke argued on Twitter that creating an elected upper house would end up “fatally undermining the primacy of the House of Commons”, and compares this to the perceived “institutional inertia” in US politics. The Conservative MP added: “If we want effective government of any colour [of any political party]Oh, that’s a terrible idea.”

Others have argued that such policies should not be a priority for the UK, which as a country is still reeling from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and is now facing an energy crisis triggered by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

  • 20% tax on independent schools
  • Ending the non-local taxes they allowed to flourish from 1997-2010
  • Lords abolition

None of it will do much to help the economy recover from COVID and Putin’s war.”

Referring to the 40 recommendations in the report, Hands added in another tweet: “When you have 40 priorities, nothing is a priority.”

Starmer said the new plans constitute “the largest transfer of power from Westminster and Whitehall” that “our country has ever seen”. Credit: Getty Images

What other recommendations are contained in the New Labor report?

There are several recommendations that form part of Labor’s plans to reshape Britain’s economic and political landscape. Some of the most important ones include:

cleaning policy

  • Create new rules for politicians and civil servants to help clamp down on second jobs for MPs
  • Appoint a “strong” anti-corruption commissioner to root out criminal behavior in the political sphere
  • Handing over new economic, tax and legislative powers to mayors and delegated governments
  • Developing 300 ‘economy clusters’ across the country – from precision medicine in Glasgow to creative media in Bristol and Bath – to double growth in the UK
  • Rebalancing the economy to raise living standards in the most disadvantaged areas
  • Move 50,000 civil service jobs out of London
  • Additional powers for Scotland and Wales, with Scotland able to enter into international agreements in respect of matters to which it has been delegated
  • Devolution in Northern Ireland will be “restored and strengthened”.