The planned reform of the House of Lords was contained in the 1997 manifesto of the Labour Party. After victory in the 2001 election, the Labour Party continued with the process of reform to the Lords. In November 2001, the proposed reforms for a new House of Lords were released. These came about as a result of a cross-party white paper and were seen as a way of making the Lords more of a part of a democracy. The plans are broadly in line with what the Royal Commission chaired by Lord Wakeham recommended.
The white paper recommended:
A three months consultation period would be provided by the government for MP’s to voice their support or otherwise.
In fact, the white paper, introduced by the Leader of the House, Robin Cook, provoked a less than enthusiastic response from both sides of the House of Commons. 117 Labour MP’s signed a Commons motion backing a mainly elected second chamber. Robin Cook claimed that this would threaten the primacy of the House of Commons:
The leader of the House of Lords, Lord Williams, claimed that the proposals were fair and that Prime Minister Tony Blair had all but given up his powers of patronage.
The shadow leader of the House of Commons, Eric Forth, claimed that the proposals were a great disappointment:
The Tory leader in the Lords, Lord Strathclyde stated:
The planned reforms were not well received by the Electoral Reform Society or by Charter 88.