The West Midlands is to elect regional peers to a reformed House of Lords under plans published by Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister.
But the controversial measures are likely to run into difficulties, with Conservative backbenchers opposing the plans and Labour attempting to block its path in the Commons.
Mr Clegg has published the House of Lords Reform Bill which would lead to 80 per cent of House of Lords members being elected by the public and the total number of members being reduced by nearly half from 826 to 450.
Peers would be elected using a form of proportional representation using the same constituencies that already exist for European Parliament elections.
It means that around 16 peers would be elected to represent the “West Midlands” region, including Birmingham, the Black Country, Coventry, Solihull, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.
Electors will place a single vote and would have a choice between backing a specific candidate they like most or simply going for a party.
The seats will then be allocated to the parties based on the number of votes they receive, with individual candidates going to the top of each party’s list if they received individual votes.
One third of the elected members will be chosen at the General Election in 2015, another third in 2020 and the final third in 2025. Eventually, the House of Lords will have 360 elected members, along with 90 chosen by a statutory Appointments Commission on a non-party basis. There would also be 12 Church of England bishops in the Lords, down from 26 at the moment.
Under the Bill, members of the reformed House would serve for 15-year terms of office, and then only for one term.
But Prime Minister David Cameron faces the prospect of a major rebellion by backbench MPs over the proposals.
Hereford Conservative MP Jessse Norman took to Twitter to publicly criticise the plans, warning: “At present when you elect your MP you elect the Government. That won’t be true if we have an elected Lords.”
An elected House of Lords would mean voters in Wales had no fewer than six elected politicians, he said – a councillor, two different members of the Welsh Assembly, an MP, an MEP and a peer.
Opposition to the plan in the House of Lords is being led by former Staffordshire MP Lord Cormack.
Meanwhile, Labour has said it will support the Bill but not a programme motion, which sets out the timetable for the Commons debate.
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the party would not support the motion because it would limit the amount of time available for debating such an important topic.
In practice, however, the only way the Government could get the Bill through the Commons would be by imposing a strict timetable which prevents critics from slowing down proceedings by making time-wasting speeches or introducing frivolous amendments.
Mr Clegg said: “The coalition stands on the brink of an historic achievement. After more than a hundred years of debates, cross-party talks, Green Papers, White Papers, Command Papers and a Royal Commission, we are finally introducing a Bill to create a democratic and legitimate House of Lords.’’
“It cannot be right that ordinary, hard working people are expected to obey laws that are created by people appointed entirely by birth or patronage, who have a generous pay packet and a job for life. The time for idle talk is finished. Now is the time for action.”