Source: The Mercury, 23 October, 1998, p.15


Blair on the warpath over Lords

London

BRITISH Prime
Minister Tony Blair
slammmed the make-up
of the House of Lords
yesterday to justify his
Labour Government's
decision to purge the upper
chamber of hereditary peers.

   Replying in the House of
Commons to an Oppo-
sition Conservative's
criticism of the reform, 
Blair said: "I notice the 
Conservative Party is now 
wholly opposed to any 
step to abolish the heredi-
tary peers - apparently 
on the grounds that they
are a cross-section of the 
British people.

   "I have done a little
work on this: there are
750 hereditary peers,
there are only two that are
black or Asian, there are
only 16 that are women,
45% of them went to Eton!

   "I think that is a
representative section of the
British community that the
House of Lords could do
without."

   Some 750 peers of various
ranks have inherited the right
to sit in the House of Lords
since the 14th century.

   The Labour Government
intends to remove their right
to vote, and eventually to
sit, in the chamber.

   The House of Lords will
ultimately be replaced by
another chamber whose
make-up has yet to be
decided.

   Blair has been infuriated
by the Conservative-
dominated Lords, which has
delayed 32 items of
government legislation
since Labour took office 18
months ago.

      AFP


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