In December, the commission chaired by Gordon Brown for the Labour Party proposed ambitious reform of the House of Lords, to create an elected ‘Assembly of the Nations and Regions’. In this first of two posts considering Labour’s options for Lords reform, Meg Russell dissects the proposals, in the light of previous UK and international experience. She suggests that the Brown report leaves much detail unspecified, making ambitious Lords reform unlikely before the second or third year of a Labour government.
The commission chaired for Labour by Gordon Brown, reported in December, proposing that the House of Lords should be replaced by an elected ‘Assembly of the Nations and Regions’. This post explores the merits of its proposals, and how feasible they are, as the first of two posts considering Labour’s options for Lords reform. The two posts summarise arguments in a report to be jointly published on Friday by the Constitution Unit, the Institute for Government and the Bennett Institute at the University of Cambridge.
The Brown commission wanted a reformed House of Lords to underpin and strengthen the UK’s territorial settlement. Much of its report was focused on economic inequalities and the benefits of decentralising power, plus a desire to strengthen the Union and discourage separatism. The proposals for the second chamber appeared late in the report, after various proposed reforms to devolution, and were intended to tie the whole system together.
Whether such an Assembly of the Nations and Regions could successfully meet these goals would depend on three things: its functions, its composition, and the practicalities of implementation. Each of these is considered briefly below, in the light of previous Lords reform proposals, and overseas experience.Continue reading