Lords to boost its internal comms

The House of Lords is to get an internal comms manager for the first time, as New Labour continues to threaten an overhaul of the second chamber’s role.

A recruitment process is already under way to fill the newly created job, which will involve working closely with the chamber’s three senior clerks, who deal with peers’ inquiries into legislation and the conduct of the house.

When New Labour came to power in 1997, one of its high-profile manifesto commitments was to reform the Lords and abolish hereditary peers. But its 2001 White Paper on this issue was scrapped. To this day, a designated committee continues to debate how the second chamber should operate.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is said to be in favour of a 70 per cent elected chamber. The drawback to an entirely elected second chamber is the likelihood of long periods of political stagnation, with the second chamber blocking decisions made by the Commons and little happening.

The House of Lords’ reputation has recently been tainted by reports of alleged peerages for sale. The Government has been accused of selling places in the Lords in return for financial gain –  an issue under investigation by the Metropolitan Police.

The internal comms post will be situated in the Clerk of the Parliament’s Office in Westminster and will report into reading clerk David Beamish.

While operating separately from the House of Lords information office, the post does have a ‘dotted’ reporting line into director of information Mary Morgan, according to a spokeswoman.

No-one in the House of Lords was available for detailed comment because of the Whitsun recess, but its information office denied the comms role’s creation is linked to Lords reform.

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