Lords defy MPs' vote for reform of upper chamber

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PEERS put themselves on a collision course with MPs yesterday when they overwhelmingly rejected all attempts to move towards an elected House of Lords.

Defying last week's surprise Commons vote, in which MPs came out in favour of a fully elected upper chamber by a majority of 113, the House of Lords threw out all attempts to "modernise" the legislature.

Instead, it backed the status quo, a fully appointed House of Lords, by a majority of 240.

Nearly 500 peers squeezed on to the red benches of the normally sedate chamber to make their opposition to the Commons verdict known. A call for a 20 per cent elected, 80 per cent appointed chamber was thrown out without a vote, as were options down to a half-elected, half-appointed Lords.

A succession of speakers, including ex-Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg, said they wanted a fully appointed second chamber. In his first Lords speech since leaving government in 2003, Lord Irvine said the Commons' choice was "an error of historic proportions".

The stand-off means MPs and peers could be months from reaching a consensus.