Lords will make way for 400 elected senators


Last updated at 02:35 21 March 2008

The House of Lords will be replaced by a smaller elected senate under plans to be unveiled this summer.

Appointed and hereditary peers will be cleared out to make way for professional, paid politicians.

The current system is expected to be consigned to the history books after the next election if, as expected, the major parties agree to back the change in their next manifestos.

Negotiations behind the scenes have led to a draft deal that would see the abolition of an institution that dates from the 14th century.

In its place would come a smaller body made up of between 350 and 400 senators who would be elected for a maximum of three fixed terms lasting between four and five years.

A Government White Paper is due to be published in May or June setting out the scope of the plans negotiated by Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

The scheme would be presented in the three main parties' manifestos for the next election, expected in 2010.

Legislation would be introduced in the next Parliament, and the changes introduced over up to 15 years.

Details of how the existing 615 life peers will be removed are still being negotiated.

Last year MPs backed two options for a reformed upper house - 80 per cent elected or 100 per cent elected.

Although the White Paper will endorse both options and leave it to the parties to choose, the most likely one is 80 per cent.

Ministers want to keep an appointed element to reflect the Lords' tradition of representing the views of experts from outside politics.

It would also allow the 26 bishops of the Church of England to keep their seats.

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