Labour will move quickly to replace the “indefensible” House of Lords with an elected chamber as part of a package to distribute power and wealth more widely, Sir Keir Starmer will pledge.
The Labour leader will scotch suggestions of delay when he delivers a major speech promising to give people “democratic control over their lives” if the party wins the next election.
English mayors and devolved governments would be granted new powers in relation to transport, infrastructure spending and housing, including possible compulsory purchase orders on vacant sites.
The Labour leader is expected to say that devolution would improve the link between training and local employment needs, and to announce plans for a “regionally oriented” investment bank to give start-up companies access to equity capital.
The ideas are contained in a review by Gordon Brown, commissioned by Sir Keir two years ago, which also contains proposals to “clean up politics” by banning MPs from holding second jobs in most cases.
Some Labour peers have warned their leader to go slow on Lords reform in order to avoid getting bogged down in a “constitutional quagmire” that will thwart other, more urgent domestic reforms.
But Labour says it wants to move swiftly to introduce an elected second chamber, which will strip politicians of the power to make appointments. A source told The Independent: “We aim to deliver it in the first term.”
The party’s education spokesperson Bridget Phillipson was asked if the Lords would be replaced “definitively in the first term”, and told the BBC: “That’s the plan.”
Amid signs of tension between Sir Keir and Mr Brown, the former New Labour prime minister said the new upper chamber would be called the Assembly of Nations and Regions.
“The current House of Lords is indefensible,” he said, adding: “Every second chamber in the world, with very few exceptions, is relatively small, and usually smaller than the first chamber. And we’ve now got a House of Lords that has got 830 members.
“That is compared with the American Senate, which has 100 members to cover 300 million people – we have got a House of Lords which is 800-plus to cover only 60 million people.”
Sir Keir will launch a consultation on the 40 recommendations in the report, but will implement the devolution package, the party said.
Speaking in Yorkshire, the Labour leader is expected to describe the package as “the biggest ever transfer of power from Westminster to the British people”.
“The centre hasn’t delivered. We have an unbalanced economy which makes too little use of the talents of too few people in too few places,” Sir Keir will say. “People up and down this country are crying out for a new approach. During the Brexit referendum I argued for Remain, but I couldn’t disagree with the basic case that many leave voters made to me.
“They wanted democratic control over their lives so they could provide opportunities for the next generation, build communities they felt proud of.”