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14.3.10 British government may abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a 300-seat fully elected second chamber, a media report said on Sunday.

In fact, plans to do away with the upper house of Parliament are to be unveiled in a draft bill on Lords' reform by British justice secretary Jack Straw in a few weeks' time, just before the general election, 'The Sunday Times' reported.

Although it's unlikely to become law before parliament is dissolved, the plan comes amid growing concern over peers' abuse of expenses, the report said.

The House of Lords currently has 733 members, 78 more than the 646-seat House of Commons. Membership to the Lords was once a right of birth to hereditary peers, but following reforms, these now only form a portion of membership., the Labour government's new blueprint would have all members directly elected, ending the tradition of party patronage. A proportional representation system would be used to select members, with voting taking place at the same time as general elections.

One-third of the new chamber would be elected on each occasion, with members serving three terms -- 15 years -- in a system similar to the one used to select members of the United States Senate, the report said.

The new "peers" could also be subject to a US-style "recall ballot" that would disqualify them for incompetence; and, in the event of death, members would be replaced without the need for by-elections under a best-loser system, it said.

The legislators would be paid a salary, but probably less than the 65,000 pounds now paid to backbench MPs.


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