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 545.


    I agree. The election was like trusting a leader to go to the shop with £1 to buy some crisps. Clegg said he would being back crisps. Brown said he'd come back with some kind of savoury snack. Cameron said he would bring back chocolate, to which I thought, "Thanks for your honesty but no, thanks."

    I send Clegg to the store and he comes back with a Mars Bar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    so we need a new pol system, someone who understands the electorate and the country's needs, a person from the lower ranks like the majority of us,not a silver spoon sucker, a leader with morals who has a spine to stand up to brussels, to transform the legal system,support the nhs and education,weed out corruption,send home illegals and bolster our borders and support business,suggestions please

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    7 Minutes ago

    @500 Dr Bob Matthews - How many failed socialist states do you need before you finally admit that it's a failed economic and political model?

    Your ignorance of basic politics is breathtaking./ None of the states you mentioned were socialist, they were communist. Too much brainwashing by the gutter press eventually manifests itself in poor biased repetitive nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    At least Mr Clegg has had fun being Deputy Prime Minister. The rest of we working mortals will be feeling the wrath of this government long after they are gone which can't come soon enough for me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    When will Clegg realise that watching paint dry is more interesting to the public that Lords reform. Yet again the LIbDems going down the wrong route and never to be forgiven for the tuition fee shambles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    Reform the Lords. Easy. Don't pay them, other than reasonable expenses.. Fill it full of volunteers who want to contribute to the country: doctors, nurses, scientists, people wth skills, and retired people with experience of the real world. Not party professionals who are out of touch and live in the media/political bubble.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    How about we have real capitalism in this country and not the crony corporatism we have now?

    The victims of mis-selling products, interest rate rigging, drug cartel money laundering, bribery, operating a cartel etc... Might take issue with your illusion of Shangri-la. I would hardly call the state of capitalism 'successful'. Every country up to its neck in debt e.g. USA $17 trillion etc...

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    There is widespread support for reform on all sides, but HoL reform needs a large amount of scrutiny, and not to be pushed through on a whim to please a minority party like the Lib Dems.

    I'm sorry Clegg, but if you think you can change Parliament because you and Cameron agreed it on an envelope in 2010, then you have another thing coming! This effects our democracy! (Or what's left of it)

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    Look, you're all being incredible unpatriotic - probably treasonous - LOTS of BRITISH SPORT all over the media and you talk about THIS ! ! ! ! !
    REALLY ! ! ! ! !

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Perhaps rather than abandoning reform plans the lib dems should offer an either/or vote of reform or abolition of the house of lords. Be interesting to see what the torys, who rebelled in the hope of getting a seat when they're voted out as mps, do then...

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.


    Looks like i touched a left wing nerve, look at the comments and your communist comments voted up ere, that`s truth but whatever helps you sleep at night.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    Open up the Pod Bay doors Nick and give us an election..

    shame there isn't someone decent (someone human, no lizards please) to vote for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    Okay Nick, its time to tally things up. In this coilition you've got nothing but the blame for tory policies people dont like, and no achievements to your name

    It is time to withdraw, and move to a "Supply and confidence vote only" agreement. Anything else, you'll vote your own way.

    Its the only way to save both yourself, and your reputation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    Childish. Withdraw support for boundary changes etc. because it's wrong, not for revenge. What an example to set to people. This is the reality of coalitions coming to the fore. Just as the left wing talk as though there would not be any cuts if they were in power, it's all smoke screen and mirrors. We will only have real change when all three main parties are kicked out. The Lords, who cares?

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    Calamity Clegg .What a shame! The Liberals backed a loser in spades . All we need now is MrCable to irritate the Business world again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    The Conservatives don't want Lords Reform, and they don't want a referendum to see whether their employers (that's you and me, the voters) want it.

    So WE can make them debate it, it only needs 100,000 people in an e-petition to get it debated, and far more people voted Lib-Dem in the General Election, and were effectively voting for the Lords to changed to an Elected Upper House.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    It's all a distraction, they say a fairer society, they're for the working people, then show how egalitarian they up, make the redundant and pointless House of Lords purely ceremonial or do away with it and save £2 billion a year. We have a supreme court ! Clegg and the others are worried they will not become an elected lord ... jobs for the boys and girls

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.

    Come on Nick and Dave, kiss and make up! We cannot afford another election with the electorate giving in and electing the Labour party! We are in the mire enough as it is! Miliband and co do not cut the mustard on integrity or any other criteria that we need now!
    Ted Heath went to the country and they bottled it only to come to their senses later, let's not have a repeat, jeepers it is costly!

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    I believe we need the Hose of Lord in order to act as safe valve on possible errors in poor legislation. But maybe some of the process's need to be reviewed and strengthened.

  • rate this

    Comment number 526.

    The future of Britain looks bleak after the olympics as many jobs will go once it is over. When the bubble we are living in bursts, we will be looking the bleak future ahead and the lack of political strategy from all parties. A general election could be round to corner yet no one inspires me to believe they can sort our country out.


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