Blair 'Will Be Forced to Accept Elected Peers'

Article excerpt


A TRIUMPHANT Robin Cook predicted yesterday that Tony Blair will be forced to abandon his plans for a fully-appointed House of Lords.

The former Foreign Secretary was speaking the day after the Government's humiliating retreat on Lords reform when it scrapped plans to abolish the remaining 92 hereditary peers until after the next election.

The Prime Minister had been warned bluntly by senior Cabinet colleagues that a full-scale confrontation with the Lords could cause a logjam in Parliament in the run-up to the next election.

Mr Cook, an advocate of a fullyelected Upper House, said Mr Blair would now have no alternative but to drop his insistence on a completely unelected second chamber.

'Most MPs last year voted for one or other form of majority elected second chamber,' he told BBC Radio Scotland. 'Most MPs are of the view that we really can't, in the 21st century, end up with the second chamber of parliament appointed entirely on patronage.' It was not enough to replace a 15th century hereditary principle with an 18th century principle of patronage and an all-appointed house, he said.

Mr Cook warned the Prime Minister he would struggle to get a Bill through the Commons that did not provide for any democratic elected element to the second chamber. …