Labor will act quickly to replace the “unsustainable” House of Lords with an elected chamber as part of a package to spread power and wealth more widely, Sir Keir Starmer will promise.
The Labor leader is set to scrap suggestions of a delay when he delivers a key speech in which he promises to give people “democratic control of their lives” if the party wins the next election.
English mayors and devolved governments would be given new powers over transport, infrastructure spending and housing, including possible compulsory orders for vacant lots.
The Labor leader is expected to say that decentralization would improve the link between training and local employment needs, and to announce plans for a “regionally focused” investment bank to give start-up companies access to equity.
The ideas are contained in a Gordon Brown review commissioned by Sir Keir two years ago, which also includes proposals to ‘clean up’ the policy by banning MPs from most part-time jobs.
Some Labor colleagues have warned their leader to proceed slowly with Lords reform lest they sink into a “constitutional quagmire” that would frustrate other, more pressing domestic policy reforms.
But Labor says it wants to quickly introduce an elected second chamber, stripping politicians of the power to make appointments. A source tells The Independent: “We want to deliver it in the first trimester.”
The party’s education spokeswoman, Bridget Phillipson, was asked if the Lords would be replaced “finally in the first term”, telling the BBC: “That’s the plan.”
Amid signs of tension between Sir Keir and Mr Brown, the former New Labor Prime Minister said the new upper chamber would be called the Assembly of Nations and Regions.
“The current House of Lords is unjustifiable,” he said, adding: “Every second chamber in the world, with very few exceptions, is relatively small, usually smaller than the first chamber. And we now have a House of Lords with 830 members.
“This is compared to the US Senate, which has 100 members to represent 300 million people – we have an upper house with more than 800 members representing only 60 million people.”
Sir Keir will launch a consultation on the report’s 40 recommendations but will implement the decentralization package, the party said.
In his Yorkshire speech, the Labor leader is expected to describe the package as “the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people”.
“The center did not deliver. We have an unbalanced economy that underutilizes the talent of fewer people in too few places,” Sir Keir will say. “People across this country are crying out for a new approach. I advocated Remain during the Brexit referendum, but I couldn’t disagree with the basic argument that many Leave voters made to me.
“They wanted democratic control over their lives so they could provide opportunity for the next generation and build communities they were proud of.”