UK Politics

First elected peer by 2015, says Lord Strathclyde

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Media captionHouse of Lords: First elections in 2015 says Tory Lord Strathclyde

The first elected "senator" will take their seat in the House of Lords in May 2015, Lord Strathclyde has predicted.

The leader of the Lords insisted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's reform plans would succeed where others have failed over the past 100 years.

But when pressed, the Tory peer refused to say that it would definitely happen, merely that "we mean it this time".

Mr Clegg wants to eventually move to a mainly elected chamber but faces stiff opposition from Tory and Labour MPs.

Lord Strathclyde told BBC One's Politics Show: "We have every intention of having the first elections to a Senate, a second chamber, in May 2015.

"And if they are senators, it will be a third elected, it'll be a very great moment, and it'll be the end of a story that's run for well over a hundred years."

When pressed further, he said: "I'm trying very hard not to say we mean it this time, but we do mean it, that's why the publication of this Bill has been so important and is a real milestone in the debate."

The deputy prime minister wants to reduce the size of the chamber from 800 to 300 members - with, eventually, at least 80% of those elected.

Initially a third of members will be elected, in 2015, and then a further third in 2020 and 2025, under the plans.

The Lib Dem leader believes this will give the House of Lords "greater democratic legitimacy".

But Tory and Labour MPs and cross-bench peers fear this will lead to greater "conflict" with the Commons.

They are also concerned that electing members for 15 years would damage accountability and that using a form of proportional representation to elect them would be unpalatable to the public.

But Mr Clegg has said the reforms started from the "premise" the Lords would remain as a revising chamber and its powers in relation to the Commons, would not change.

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