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UK MPs back elections to House of Lords

[JURIST] The UK House of Commons [official website] backed two different proposals [BBC backgrounder] Wednesday on reforming the upper house of parliament [BBC Q/A], the House of Lords [official website]. Members of the House of Lords currently are appointed or hold hereditary peerages, but under the proposals at least 80 percent of members would be elected. Under the first plan approved by MPs by a 113-vote majority, all members of the House of Lords would be elected. Under the second proposal, backed by a 38-vote majority, 80 percent of members would be elected, with the rest appointed. Neither vote is binding, but instead will guide further government discussions on House of Lords reform [white paper, PDF; chronology, PDF]. Government Commons Leader and former foreign secretary Jack Straw said that a cross-party group would be assembled for the next stage of discussions.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair previously supported a separate proposal [JURIST report] for a half-elected, half-appointed House of Lords, but that plan was not advanced Wednesday. In 2003, cabinet members rejected [BBC report] five different reform initiatives, which varied from an entirely elected to entirely appointed House of Lords. Proposals were again initiated in 2006, with the release of a document [PDF text] by a cross-party working group on Lords' reform that hinted at a half-elected, half-appointed House with 450 Lords sitting in the chamber. BBC News has more.

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