The House of Lords

The White Paper

Pointer Foreword
Pointer Chapter 1. Executive Summary
Pointer Chapter 2. Introduction: modernising the House of Lords.
Pointer Chapter 3. The present House of Lords.
Pointer Chapter 4. Role of a second chamber.
Pointer Chapter 5. Modernising the Lords: hereditary peers.
Pointer Chapter 6. Modernising the Lords: a transitional house.
Pointer Chapter 7. Modernising the Lords: longer-term reform - what should the modernised House do?
Pointer Chapter 8. Modernising the Lords: longer-term reform ­ the compostion of a reformed House of Lords.
Pointer Back to the introduction.

Foreword by the Prime Minister

Britain is a vigorous, creative and dynamic country. Its people are inventive, talented and diligent. They deserve a framework for their country which reflects the unique character of the place and the people.

I am convinced that many of the key institutions of Britain are amongst the best in the world. They have developed ­ many of them over centuries ­ in ways which catch the character of Britain and the British people: a character rooted in fairness, in decency and in democracy. They have changed throughout their history: they will continue to change, now and in the future.

Their pattern of change reflects the constant need to ensure that the framework of Britain is as good as it can be: as principled, as practical, as supple and as strong as is necessary. Modernisation is a constant element of that process. All institutions need to modernise to maintain their impact, their importance and their integrity.

New Labour was elected with a mandate to modernise. Our commitment to modernisation is clear and comprehensive. We are modernising and bringing closer to people representative arrangements in Scotland, in Wales and in Northern Ireland; introducing new structures for the regions of England; bringing in a new capital-wide authority and Mayor for our great city of London; bringing forward measures to reform and renew the vital democratic strand of local government; and implementing a significant programme of modernisation of the House of Commons.

In line with this programme of renewal, the modernisation of the House of Lords is vital. The Government will be judged on the improvements we bring about on health, education, crime, jobs and the economy. But reforming the House of Lords is a key element of the Government's legislative plans, and proposals for further reform beyond that.

Reform of the House of Lords is long overdue. For too long, hereditary peers with no democratic legitimacy, whose role is based on birth and not merit, have been able to play a part in passing laws affecting everyone in Britain. For too long, Britain has got by with a second Parliamentary chamber which is less good than it could be. For too long, governments in Britain have shirked the responsibility of reform.

New Labour in government will, as we promised, carry out a careful and considered reform of the House of Lords: the immediate removal of the hereditary peerage, and longer-term reform of the House of Lords as a whole.

This is a radical and historic task. I believe it will be widely supported by the people of our country. I believe it will create a second chamber of Parliament of which both Parliament and the people can be proud. And I believe it will produce better government for Britain.

Chapter 1

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