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Lords members would be forced to retire at 80 under Labor plans

Lords members would be forced to retire at 80 under Labor plans
Lords members would be forced to retire at 80 under Labor plans


A retirement age of 80 will be imposed on members of the House of Lords if Labor wins the general election, the party has said.

Sir Keir Starmer also pledged to phase out remaining hereditary peers – Lords who inherit a seat in Parliament from their parents – in Labour's manifesto, published on Thursday.

The Labor leader had initially promised to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a second elected chamber.

But this ambition has been reduced to a long-term ambition. The Labor Manifesto now calls for consultation on replacing the House of Lords with a “more representative” body.

In Labour's governing plan, the immediate priority would be to reduce the size of the Lords and make it easier to remove “disgraced peers”.

Conditions for participation, aimed at “ensuring that all peers meet the high standards that the public expects of them”, would also be introduced.

The size and role of the House of Lords has come under scrutiny in recent years, amid warnings that membership has become excessive, with 784 sitting members.

Concerns have also been raised about some of the peers appointed by former prime ministers including Boris Johnson, notably Lord Lebedev.

The media mogul and son of a former KGB agent was given a life peerage in 2020, but has only spoken once in the House.

In December 2022, Sir Keir unveiled a report by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which contained plans to abolish the House of Lords alongside other constitutional reforms.

The report has been touted as a potential model for a Labor government's first term.

Since then there have been several attempts to water down the plans, with Labor now promising to “immediately modernize” the upper house.

In its manifesto, Labor said it “recognizes the good work of many peers who are scrutinizing government and improving the quality of legislation passed in Parliament; reform is long overdue and essential.

“Because appointments are for life, the second chamber of Parliament has become too large,” the document adds.

The BBC understands the cap would apply at the end of the parliamentary term, when peers reach 80, allowing some to stay until 84.

There is no upper age limit for sitting MPs.

A mandatory retirement age of 80 would hit the Labor group in the Lords hardest, as their peers are, on average, older than their Conservative or independent peers. There are also fewer Labor peers than Conservatives.

This could mean a Labor government would have to appoint dozens of new peers to ensure it can pass new laws through the upper house.

Several influential peers would be barred from the chamber under Labor's plans.

They include Labour's Lord Dubs, who served as MP for Battersea after arriving in the UK aged six fleeing the Nazis, former Conservative deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine and former Liberal leader Dem Lord Campbell.

The last Labor government got rid of most of its hereditary peers in 1999, but allowed 92 to stay as part of a compromise deal.

Their numbers were maintained through by-elections to replace retired or deceased members, selecting from among 800 peers who inherited their titles.

Several attempts have been made to remove this system over the years, but it remains in place.

Labor has now promised to introduce “legislation to remove the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords”.




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