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 385.

    I'm all for reform of the HOL, but if this means it's more likely the tories will be out at the next election . . good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    Never trust a Tory. I thought everyone know that. It's one of the unwritten laws of the universe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    I can understand that Mr.Clegg feels it is better to shelve the idea than give it a slow death, however he seems pretty resigned to whatever the conservatives demand. Could he not have tried harder to raise support from the nation, get labour on side, and generally build up enough pressure to force the cons to conceded on what they had agreed anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    Dear Messers Clegg and Camoron, For christmas I would like a general election please

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    This is just another reason to vote on a no confidence. This is not a group of people that can represent or correctly govern our country. Vote them out before they lead us into further ressesions

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    Mr Clegg you are in Government to carry out the will of the British People not to force through your personal idea's please wake up stop acting like a spoilt child and concentrate on making this Great Country of ours Great again !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    Nil out of ten. The three flagship Lib-Dem policies of PR, Lords reform and student loans. All disappeared without trace. And they have also managed to completely alienate their natural supporters. I don’t think Cleggy and Co could have got it more wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    Dave, Nick or Ed, we really are spoilt for choice, aren't we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    So now Clegg supports unfair democracy? Supports biased sized constituencies?

    Running scared of another referendum on the political class stitch up of the Lords as a retirement home for those that suck up to the party enough?

    No belief in democracy since we rejected their self indulgent obsession over AV/PR?

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    Well if Cleggy and the LD's have now shown the country only one thing, they are in it for power. The Tories have also shown the country that they can not be trusted even with a written contract so are LIARS. But do not then let Labour fool you as they like George Osborne they can not count. So Cleggy why not end this farce and leave the Coalition, Oh I forgot, Cleggy is gutless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 375.

    Lords reform is important, we all agree, but where were the Liberal Democrats when it came to opposing Lansley's NHS reforms?
    I am in favour of a fully elected House of Lords without the Bishops or any other appointees. The reforms envisaged in these proposals would have caused more problems than they solved.
    My message to the liberal Democrats is get your priorities right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    Voted in for FIFTEEN YEARS ... that's just madness!
    For the upper house (whatever we end up calling it) to offer checks and balances it must _never_ be just a mirror image of the Commons.
    Whilst there are obvious inequities with the current system, if it ain't broke don't fix it!
    Remove hereditary succession and appoint suitable people whilst reducing the No.
    No moving in straight from the Commons

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Result -> a Labour govt and no money to spend. Never a happy combination.
    I'd give them 2 year's till gilt yields rocket & they're in the hands of the IMF.

    Wake up and smell reality. We ARE in that situation NOW!
    And idiots want to leave the EU? We will be there soon with our begging bowl. The depression instigated by the Tories over the past 2+ years has destroyed the mess Labour began.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    all votes have equal power? half of us know our next MP now. The party has a safe seat and so the politicians court the swing voters - about 100,000 of them says lord ashcroft. And politicians deliver what they said in their manifestos, so Clegg's betrayed us? Please say that with a straight face. The guy's toast, but let's try and be honest

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    Why tell us you are going to vote against our boundary reforms? Cleggy should have kept his mouth shut and just done it! I think politics is beyond him. Even now, after all we have done to them, he's nt got the pair to face/man up - we should have him in the Tory party - make him a lord!

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    The chance to move to a modern democracy gone. What a incompetent government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    As 64% of the population didn't want the Tory party...etc

    ...but 71% didn't want the Labour party...etc etc.
    Yr in a hole - stop digging.

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    ... thinking about it ... I suspect that all might be forgiven if the Lib. Dems. stopped the bus and told the Tories to get off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    "I'm going home to mum, and I'm taking my ball with me". Simpering ninny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    I don't understand this at all. Either the boundary changes are right and represent good governance or they are wrong and unworthy of support.
    Withdrawing backing because of some perceived slight seems childish and very immature.
    Any party capable of operating on this basis is surely totally unsuited to any role in leading the country?


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