Keir Starmer clashes with Marr over abolishing House of Lords

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Sir Keir appeared to abandon one of his electoral pledges during an appearance on the Andrew Marr Show after the Labour leader was grilled on his position following the “cash for peerages” story being published. BBC journalist Mr Marr asked Sir Keir if his position on abolishing the House of Lords has changed following the story – but he was unable to give a straight answer. Instead, Sir Keir explained a committee led by Gordon Brown was looking into the situation and said the chamber certainly needed to “change”. 

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir was asked by Mr Marr whether he still stands by his 2019 pledge to abolish the House of Lords.

He asked “You’ve said in the past, you want the abolition of the House of Lords, you want to replace it.

“Everyone says that in opposition, nothing ever happens, after what we’ve been hearing about today is the abolition of the House of Lords now an urgent matter of the Labour Party and it will be big in your manifesto at the next election?”

Mr Marr referred to the report in the Sunday Times which says 22 of the Conservative Party’s main financial donors have been offered seats in the House of Lords since 2010.

Between them, around £54million has been donated.

Addressing the issue, Sir Keir explained: “What I’ve done Andrew is I set up a commission to look at the future of the UK, including institutions such as House of Lords, Gordon Brown is leading that and…”

Mr Marr interrupted and pressured Sir Keir to give a straight answer on whether or not he would abolish the House of Lords.

Sir Keir said he would be looking to “change” the chamber and did not say whether he would get rid of it entirely.

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The Labour leader continued: “I’ve said we need to change the House of Lords, I stand by that.

“I’ve asked Gordon Brown to look into exactly what those changes should be and we’re looking at [that].

“But waking up this morning to see the Sunday Times report of 15 of the last 16 mega-donors and treasures of the Conservative Party all trooping in as peers to the Lords.

“Nobody can make the case that we don’t need to change.”

Sir Keir set out his “10 pledges” to voters which include a selection of promises he will do if he is elected.

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At number eight, the pledge reads: “Push power, wealth and opportunity away from Whitehall.

“A federal system to devolve powers – including through regional investment banks and control over regional industrial strategy.

“Abolish the House of Lords – replace it with an elected chamber of regions and nations.”

The Sunday Times report claims the Conservative Party is offering seats in the House of Lords to wealthy benefactors of the party.

The report claims rich donors “appear to be guaranteed a peerage if they take on the temporary role as the party treasurer and increase their own donations beyond £3million”.

The story also comes amid reports claiming a peerage for Owen Paterson, who stepped down over breaching lobbying rules, has not been ruled out.

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