Lisa Nandy has described the House of Lords as “unelected and unaccountable to the public” and argued that having such an upper chamber in a democracy is simply “not acceptable”.
In a Times Radio interview this morning, ahead of the publication of a major report on constitutional reform later today, the Shadow Levelling Up Secretary said Labour wants “public institutions to be far more responsive”.
Keir Starmer commissioned the report from the Commission on the UK’s Future, led by Gordon Brown, in December 2020. He will launch the report this morning in Leeds. Nandy told listeners that her party is going to “pick up those recommendations” set out in the document “and we’re going to make them work”.
The report argues that “continuing over-concentration of power in Westminster and Whitehall is undermining our ability to deliver growth and prosperity for the whole country”, adding: “The more we lag behind economically the more people feel abandoned by an unresponsive system of government.”
The four “pillars” of the document are: “a new purpose for Britain: equal opportunities for all”; “biggest transfer of power out of Westminster ever”; “reform of the centre”; and “a fresh blueprint to implement radical change”.
Among its 40 recommendations is a plan to give communities powers over skills, transport, planning and culture to enable the emergence of hundreds of ‘clusters’ of economic activity in cities and towns. The report recommends new powers for mayors, councils and devolved governments.
Starmer described the plan as “the biggest transfer of power, of wealth, resource and opportunity to all places across the UK” earlier today. He said it is not “some academic report” but is grounded in his “core belief that if we come into government… we have to fix our economy and we have to fix our politics”.
The report will also recommend abolishing the House of Lords and replacing it with an elected second chamber. Asked whether Labour would axe the Lords in its first term, Starmer said he is “keen” to see all the recommendations in the document implemented “as soon as possible”.
“The reason we’re having the consultation now, before the election, is because I’m absolutely determined that an incoming Labour government will be a government of delivery,” he added.
“All of the recommendations in the report, including the recommendation in relation to the House of Lords, are deliberately written in a way that means they can be implemented within the first five years of a Labour government.”
Nandy told listeners this morning that “everyone in Britain can see that Britain isn’t working at the moment” and warned that “there are far too few people with a grip on decision making and power, including unelected peers in the House of Lords and we believe that should change”.