Nick Clegg: Lords reform plans to be abandoned


Nick Clegg: "The Conservative party is not honouring the commitment to Lords reform"

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Plans to reform the House of Lords are being abandoned after Conservatives "broke the coalition contract", Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has announced.

Agreement on an elected Lords could not be reached with Tory opponents, he said, and the plans would be shelved rather than face a "slow death".

As a result, he said Lib Dem MPs could not now support Conservative-driven changes to Commons boundaries in 2015.

Labour said the Lords climbdown was a "humiliation" for the coalition.

Changes to the make-up of the Lords would have seen 80% of peers elected and the total number of members halved to 450.

An elected Lords is a long-cherished goal of the Lib Dems but one opposed by many Conservatives - more than 90 of whom defied the government in a vote on the issue in July.

The deputy prime minister said he was "disappointed" to have to give way, adding that he had offered his Conservative partners a referendum on the issue in 2015 as part of a compromise deal but this had been rejected.

He said the Conservatives could not take a "pick and choose" approach to the coalition agreement - which committed the government to bringing forward proposals for a wholly or largely elected body.

'Mutual respect'

Start Quote

We have not been able to proceed on Lords reform, frankly, because there is opposition in Parliament and the opportunism of the Labour Party”

End Quote George Osborne Chancellor

To make sure the contract remained "balanced" the Lib Dems now want to delay proposals to reduce the size of the Commons from 650 to 600 MPs and to redraw parliamentary boundaries - thought likely to favour the Conservatives - until after the 2015 election.

While he was still committed to keeping the coalition going, Mr Clegg said it was a "reciprocal arrangement" and could only work if it was based on "mutual respect".

"The Conservative Party is not honouring the commitment to Lords reform and, as a result, part of our contract has now been broken," he said.

"Clearly I cannot permit a situation where Conservative rebels can pick and choose the parts of the contract they like, while Liberal Democrat MPs are bound to the entire agreement."


Although proposals to make constituencies roughly the same size have already been approved in principle by MPs, they require a further vote on their implementation in time for the next election.

Mr Clegg added: "I have told the prime minister that when, in due course, parliament votes on boundary changes for the 2015 election I will be instructing my party to oppose them."

Start Quote

There is now a definite air of tit-for-tat around the coalition”

End Quote

Chancellor George Osborne said MPs would consider the matter next year and the government would "cross any issues with the boundary vote when we get to them".

Mr Osborne insisted the coalition was strong and the government would use the parliamentary time freed up by the withdrawal of the Lords plans to put forward proposals on jobs and growth.

"We have not been able to proceed on Lords reform, frankly, because there is opposition in Parliament and the opportunism of the Labour Party," he said.

"I think we have got to use this moment as an opportunity to focus 110% on the economy - which is what the country wants."

In his press conference, Mr Clegg also criticised Labour for their approach to Lords reform, saying they were "supporting the ends, but - when push comes to shove - obstructing the means".

The opposition joined Conservative rebels in voting against a motion which would have set a timetable for debating the proposals - arguing they were not being given enough scrutiny.

'Overwhelming opposition'

Start Quote

Today's humiliation for the Government is a spectacular failure of leadership from David Cameron”

End Quote Sadiq Khan Shadow justice secretary

Labour said it was "outrageous" for Mr Clegg to try to blame them - suggesting it was the Conservatives who had "never been serious about reform".

"Today's humiliation for the Government is a spectacular failure of leadership from David Cameron," said shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan.

"David Cameron's weakness in not being able to control his own party and deliver on the coalition agreement shows a prime minister lacking the leadership our country deserves."

The prime minister told Tory MPs last month he would make "one more try" to push Lords reform through in September when the Commons returned from its summer recess.

Conservative MP John Whittingdale said there was "overwhelming opposition" in the party to an elected Lords and Nick Clegg "just had to accept that reality".

Lib Dem MP Martin Horwood said the Conservatives "had become the G4S of British politics" and had "failed to deliver" - a reference to the firm involved in a row about security ahead of the Olympics.

But the BBC's political correspondent Carole Walker said when Mr Clegg appeared before a committee of MPs earlier this year, he said there was no link between Lords reform and boundary changes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Libs have now failed to secure their key programmes: PR and Lords reform. Time for Clegg to enter negotiations with Labour. Cable as Chancellor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Aren't politicians pathetic. They sound just like kids in a playground - 'if you won't play my way then i'm not playing your game!'
    There is a country to be run and the economic situation to sort out, but they'd rather spend their time name calling. Then they have the nerve to expect us to vote for them! NO WAY!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    There are many very serious problems facing this country and a vast amount of work to be done in fixing everything that needs fixing. Reform of the House of Lords, which by and large works well, is so far from being a priority that probably 99 out of every 100 people really couldn't care less. The last thing we need is Commons version 2.0, which is what Cleggy's mates wanted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Just now

    Clegg will not force a general election, he knows that will most likely result in a UKIP-Conservative powersharing arrangement and his party will be decimated.
    At last a UKIP supporter admitting that UKIP is a ragbag of extreme right wing disaffected Tories and loony BNP supporters!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    Welcome to being the very small bit of the coalition Clegg.

    You got your AV vote (hahaha), so don't feel too bad.

    Look forward to the next GE.... Your in for a kicking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    THere ws a lot in the HoL Bill that actually made sense and should be brought forward but without the elections.

    Things like making the Appointments Commission statutory and allowing Peers to resign their seats and the disqualification clauses.

    The bill wasn't all about electing 'Senators' there were some good but much needed and non controversial reforms that have also been lost

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Sounds like democracy in action. All parties want to reform the Lords but Lib Dems want to rush it. This is a big deal, not a tweak.
    Constitutions changes ideally need a referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Looks like Clegg is talking to himself.
    Reform of the Lords is important but the last thing we need is another pack of almost unsackable party hacks put in place to toe the party line, courtesy of the LibDems dream of life after their death.
    Let's remember c.80% of the Lords are already party appointed.
    There are many more vital & urgent issues.
    And let's have referendum please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Is Nick really surprised?

    May God help us all if he ever negotiates with the French!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The liberal reforms were a disingenous attempt to get PR by the back door. Furthermore, all govts with elected 2nd chambers are federal, presidential or both, and are frequently deadlocked.
    The Lords is imperfect. I believe in democracy. But ill thought out reforms woukld damage a system that has served as relatively well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    The Lib Dems attempted to ram this through the Commons quickly without proper scrutiny. The Bill was seriously flawed and was rejected by the majaority of the Conservatives.
    Just because its in the coalition agreement does not mean you are entitled to make bad law.
    Clegg is saying that he will not support Conservative items. Why does he not exit the whole agreement then we can have an Election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Who the heck is Nick Clegg? You'd think he'd won an election this guy was 'talking' with Labour a while ago... this speaks volumes, he's a 'clinger'!

    Clear the air Cameron call an election if you win you have your own government, running on bartering polices scratching each others back is not the way to go!

    Certainly not the way to run the country Mr Clegg, better run back to mummy - step down!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    This has to be the most incompetent government the country has ever had they cant get nothing right more u-Turns than a leaner driver

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    This looser, this disgusting turn coat is done. He will never win another election for the finished Lib Dem's and no conservative will vote for him. He is a man with no principle at all, whether you agree with what he claimed he wanted or not. By idiot!

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The plans for the house of Lords were half baked and a typical liberal middle road. I woud like to see them abolished and replaced with a constitution that protected the citizen from over zealous governance. Perhaps the Lords could spend a few years drawing up such a costitution. It could be their legacy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    "They could have had the lot if they had joined with Labour"

    ...and we'd have been an even poorer and more democratically disconnected country than we are now.

    Watching Nick Clegg and LDs is like the dead parrot sketch in Monty Python. Your Party is dead Mr Clegg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Storm. Teacup. Or ought to be.
    Of all things that need serious parliamentary and attention and time, reform of the Lords does not stand anywhere near the top of the list.
    Whatever its origins, and current "democratic deficit", the House of Lords is in practice often more sane and functional than the other house of parliament.
    But a sensible sense of priority in the Commons? Long odds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    'Plans to reform the House of Lords are being abandoned after Conservatives "broke the coalition contract", '

    Isn't it more to do with a complete lack of public interest in the subject?

    Personally I'm an enthusiastic supporter of reforming our archaic upper house, but even I can tell I'm in a tiny minority.

  • Comment number 87.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    So, Nick Clegg seems to think we should have more politicians.

    More in the Lords and more in the Commons.

    If the answer is 'more politicians', we're not asking the right question.


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