Labour would abolish 'indefensible' House of Lords, pledges Starmer

ITV Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks on Labour's plans to reform the UK constitution and abolish the House of Lords

Labour unveiled its vision for a 'new Britain' that would see an elected House of Lords, a ban on MPs' second jobs and citizen juries making and enforcing rules for politicians.

Unveiling the party's blueprint for political and economic devolution, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer vowed to “unbind” Britain from a centre that has “not delivered”.

The wide-ranging package of proposals on the UK’s future, headed by ex-premier Gordon Brown, aims to shift power away from Westminster and raise standards in UK politics.

Mr Brown said it would represent “the biggest transfer of power out of Westminster and Whitehall” that “our country has seen.”

What are the key recommendations to reshape Britain’s economic and political landscape in Labour’s commission on the future of the UK?

An elected House of Lords

Labour would aim to abolish the “indefensible” House of Lords “as quickly as possible”, ideally within its first term, Sir Keir said.

The upper chamber would be replaced with a new democratic assembly of nations and regions.There would be consultations around agreeing a timeframe for this.

Creating new regional industrial clusters

Towns, cities and other areas would be brought together as part of a coordinated economic strategy.

Mayors and local leaders will play a key role in shaping the plans, with the UK Infrastructure Bank and a British Regional Investment Bank (a rebadged British Business Bank) supporting investment.

Some 50,000 civil service jobs would be transferred out of London.

The report also identified 288 “new economic clusters”, 200 of them outside London, capable of creating tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown during a Labour Party press conference. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Banning MPs' second jobs and cleaning up politics

A new integrity and ethics commission would raise standards and politics in a bid to “clean up Westminster” as Mr Brown hit out at “Conservative sleaze”.

The integrity and ethics commission proposal came alongside plans to end most second jobs for MPs and to create a new anti-corruption commissioner.

The 155-page Labour report suggests an Independent Integrity and Ethics Commission should take on the role of investigating alleged breaches of the code of conduct for ministers, while also calling for a “general prohibition on second jobs by members of Parliament”, but with exceptions for jobs such as medicine where work is required to retain professional memberships.

The new anti-corruption commissioner, pitched as a “powerful” official in the Labour report, would “root out criminal behaviour in British political life where it occurs” and would be appointed with the approval of Parliament and each devolved assembly with a remit at every level of politics.

Juries of citizens to decide if MPs have breached rules

Elsewhere, the report also calls for a greater role for the public in making and enforcing the rules for politicians, with one idea being the involvement of a citizens’ jury in reviewing the standards system.

Labour could also beef up freedom of information powers, with the report recommending that the transparency tool be expanded to be “applied to all new public service contracts delivered by private companies”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer making his speech in Leeds Credit: Danny Lawson/PA

Extra powers for Scotland and Wales, with restored and strengthened devolution in Northern Ireland

Scotland would be able to enter into international agreements in relation to devolved matters, the status of MSPs would be bolstered, devolution would get greater constitutional protection and there would be enhanced access to economic support through the British Regional Investment Bank.

Wales could get new powers over youth justice and probation, while constitutional protections for devolution and the rights of Members of the Senedd would be extended in a way similar to the Scottish proposals, along with access to British Regional Investment Bank funding.

In Northern Ireland there is a desire for devolution to be “restored and strengthened”.

Meanwhile, a new, legally-mandated “councils of the nations and regions and of England” will replace the present joint ministerial committees.

The new bodies would include not just devolved administrations but local leaders from within England, to prevent the government treating communities in a “high-handed way”.

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