Nick Clegg has declared that “time for talk” about reforming the House of Lords is over, and said detailed work will start next week on creating an elected second chamber.
To speed up the process, senior Labour figures will join Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition partners in drawing up the proposals.
Mr Clegg, speaking in a Commons debate on constitutional reform, also moved to defuse backbench anger over plans to make it more difficult for MPs to force a general election.
Making his first speech at the despatch box as Deputy Prime Minister, he promised the coalition would succeed where other Governments had failed.
He said: “I will not hide my impatience for reforms that are more than 100 years overdue.”
Mr Clegg disclosed that a cross-party committee to consider reform will begin meeting next week.
He also sought to soothe anger over moves to require a vote of 55% — rather than a simple majority — of MPs before Parliament is dissolved.
Critics from all parties have protested that the change could mean a government being forced out of office after losing a confidence vote in the Commons without an election being automatically triggered.