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Replacing House of Lords?
Cameron makes plans to ditch 700-year-old group for an elected body
All remaining hereditary peers would be removed.
A strict 15-year term limit would be imposed on those elected, unlike the current system in which members are appointed for life.
Voters would elect the first 120 members of the new House of Lords in May 2015, when Britain is scheduled to hold a national election. Another 120 would be elected at a planned 2020 national vote, and the final group five years later.
Lords currently can claim an allowance of up to $467 a day, and are likely to receive a fixed payment of about $70,000 in a reformed chamber.
In Britain’s 2009 lawmakers’ expense check scandal, two peers were jailed over false accounting related to their allowances.
Under Mr. Cameron’s plans, members of the House of Lords convicted of criminal offenses could be kicked out. Currently those jailed for serious crimes - like politician and novelist Jeffrey Archer and ex-media mogul Conrad Black - can’t be stripped of their seat.
The upper chamber’s powers have been stripped away gradually for the last 100 years.
Attempts to bring in election for members previously have won approval - most recently in a 2007 House of Commons vote - but reforms have been stalled by opposition in the Lords, competing priorities and worries over the possible cost.
Already, Mr. Cameron is preparing for a fight and has warned peers that he will veto them if they attempt to stall the changes.
Some legislators have complained that constitutional changes shouldn’t be a priority when Britain is suffering a recession and implementing a tough austerity program of $130 billion in government spending cuts.
While the main opposition Labor Party leader Ed Miliband said he supports the plan, he may press for a public referendum on the changes - a tactic that could significantly delay any reforms.
One hereditary peer, ex-government minister David Trefgarne, has even claimed that mere mortals have no right to meddle with the Lords.
He suggested that because his seat in the House of Lords was granted to his ancestors by Britain’s monarch - once regarded as having won the right to rule directly from God - the privilege is one conferred by divine right.
By Donald Lambro
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Let it snow