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     Straw scraps Lords voting plan  <<back  next>>

Jack Straw has abandoned controversial plans to use a preferential voting system for deciding on the future of the House of Lords.

MPs will instead use the traditional 'ayes and noes' method of voting to decide the upper chamber's composition.

The leader of the Commons said he was responding to criticism from MPs after publication of his white paper on Lords reform earlier this month.

In order to break the deadlock that occurred when the matter last came to parliament in 2003, he had proposed giving MPs a list of seven options and asking them to rank them in order of preference.

Straw said: "I took the view, and I still do, that this system had many advantages.

"However, it became evident during speeches in the house that my own enthusiasm for the new system was not as widely shared as I had anticipated."

He added: "I don't want discussions about procedure to overshadow the substantive debate we're going to be having on the future of the Lords itself."

Shadow leader of the Commons Theresa May welcomed the decision, saying it would have been "a dangerous constitutional precedent".

The change of plan was "a victory for parliament and a victory for common sense", she said.

But Liberal Democrat Commons spokesman David Heath said the news was a "great disappointment".

"Jack Straw has fallen foul of a Tory party professing a desire for reform but doing all they can to frustrate the means, as well as the Jurassic elements in his own party who are no more interested in reform," he said.

19 February 2007

 Last updated: 19/02/2007 16:37:00

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