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Blair stands firm on Lords reform plan.

Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday rammed home his determination to axe hereditary peers from the House of Lords.

Mr Blair told the Commons they had to be abolished as they were completely unrepresentative of the British people.

He said: "The Tory Party is wholly opposed to any step to abolish the hereditary 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. Forty-five per cent of them went to Eton!

"I think that is a representative section of the British community that the House of Lords could do without."

Mr Blair's attack came after Labour MP Andrew Reed called on him to press ahead with plans to scrap the rights of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the Upper House.

Mr Reed said: "The easiest choice you have over the next few months is to abolish the hereditary peers along the corridor.

"You would gain massive support from Labour benches."

It followed Tuesday night's Government defeat in the Lords - on the strength of the votes of hereditary peers - on the European Parliamentary Elections Bill, which brings in a party list system of proportional representation for next year's Euro elections.

The House voted 165-140 to allow electors to choose candidates as well as parties under the new system.
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Author:Aitken, Vivienne
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 22, 1998
Words:242
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