Labour peer launches plan to replace House of Lords

The House of Lords should be completely reformed and replaced by a second chamber at Westminster representing nations and regions, a Labour peer has said.

Baroness Pauline Bryan of Partick, a constitutional reform adviser appointed by Jeremy Corbyn, said the move would ensure the Scottish Parliament is “no longer subordinate to Westminster”.

The Labour leader appointed Baroness Bryan to the Lords last year and was designated the party’s lead for updating policy on federalism and Lords reform.

At the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee on Saturday, Baroness Bryan launched a paper which sets out her plans for reform.

It proposes a new Chamber of the Nations and Regions which should be elected and be fully accountable.

It also proposes the “future relationship between Holyrood and Westminster should be based on partnership and not hierarchy”.

The document states: “Under this arrangement there must be common minimum standards across the UK on human rights, employment rights, consumer protection and environmental protection and that the Scottish Parliament should have the power to enhance but never detract from these minimum standards.”

Baroness Bryan added: “The point is to change the relationship so that the Scottish Parliament is no longer subordinate to Westminster.

“A second Chamber of the Nations and Regions would change the nature of the relations to shared government on the cross territorial issues.

“Instead of the House of Commons having automatic primacy, this would be a new settlement of shared sovereignty.”

Mr Corbyn has previously indicated his backing for the move.

He said: “We have a House of Lords which is dominated by a small number of people from London and the south east.

“I would want to see an elected second chamber that is representative of all regions and nations of the United Kingdom.

“I think that’s very, very important. I think it should have an electoral mandate to go with it.”

Willie Sullivan, of the Electoral Reform Society Scotland, said: “The piecemeal, ad hoc approach to democratic change in the UK has held us back, with a constant, low-level constitutional crisis, with Scotland and the other nations pitted against Westminster, and vice versa.

“That is not a sustainable relationship and it is time for an approach that puts citizens at the centre, not the needs of politicians. What form this reform takes is up for discussion, but it is good to see parties considering this in the round.

“As this briefing points out, the primary way to reform the bloated, unelected House of Lords is to replace it with a fairly elected revising chamber, with a clearly defined remit and which can speak up for the nations and regions of the whole UK.

“Voters are tired of seeing scandal after scandal in the Lords with no way of kicking them out. A much smaller, more effective second chamber would help draw to a close the era of unaccountable power and bring our democracy into the 21st century.”

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