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