The Sunday Times: Lords may become ‘House of Regions’

5 January 2020

By Tim Shipman

Boris Johnson is examining plans to scrap the House of Lords and replace it with a second chamber that will give a bigger say in Westminster to the north of England.

Senior Tories say ministers are looking at plans to reform the Lords and make it largely elected to give a voice to “the nations and regions”.

A plan drawn up by Lord Salisbury and published last year is now “on the desk” of Johnson’s team.

Aides said scrapping the Lords was “not a priority” but acknowledged that the plan had attractions.

Some believe that giving a number of seats in parliament’s second chamber to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would help keep the union together at a time when the Scottish National Party is agitating for a second referendum on independence.

They also think that assigning seats to Yorkshire and other northern counties and the big regional cities would help give voters outside London a greater say in the government.

Johnson’s team will return to work this week determined to keep the support of those who switched from Labour to the Conservatives in the “red wall” of northern seats. One plan is to pump money into such infrastructure projects as Northern Powerhouse Rail.

It is understood that the proposal for the House of Lords will be looked at as part of a commission on the constitution, due to be set up in the spring.

This will examine the roles of the Supreme Court and the lord chancellor and whether the constitutional balance is right.

“Lord Salisbury produced a paper that set out a blueprint to turn it into the House of the Nations and Regions,” according to a senior Conservative familiar with the discussions.

“He has spoken to Boris about it. It attracts their attention a great deal. The Lords is one of those areas where they can have a couple of fights.”

Johnson is also working on a new list of peers, who are due to be unveiled later this month.

David Lidington and Patrick McLoughlin, both former cabinet ministers, are expected to be ennobled, along with two Brexit-backing donors whom Johnson’s team expect to cause controversy.

Some Conservatives are also pushing for Ken Clarke — the former chancellor who was stripped of the whip for opposing Johnson on Brexit — to be given a peerage and be readmitted to the party.

You can access the full article on The Sunday Times website here.

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