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."

'Weakness'

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
    +5

    Comment number 565.

    It's great to see all the tories crying into their dry sherries. Maybe it's dawned on them how unpopular they are and let's face it, it's not surprising really. I'll drink a bottle of beer to that.

  • Comment number 564.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 563.

    #504
    OL. No-one wants Labour either, no alternative.
    ---------
    There's a difference between wanting something and seeing it as the lesser of two evils.

    Not sure about your suggestion but I would like to see the abolition of party sponsorship. I'd also like to see a centre ground that balanced the needs of business with those of people, PAYE people.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 562.

    Clegg goes on about the reform of the lords, but says nothing about the dirty tricks that the banking sector have been up to in their laundering of money in the name of profits, its the banks that need reforming not the Lords, and it needs to be done quickly before they sell us all down the river,in the name of profits and bonuses

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 561.

    I think we're up do-do creek without a paddle folks! We are down to two political parties (if you can call them that) and neither of them represent good honest working people struggling to put food on the table and bring their children up to be honest and kind. Politicians of all colours were caught stealing from the tax payer. The LibDems will sell any principal to keep their snouts in the trough

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 560.

    Not before time.
    Beginning to wonder whether a shred of backbone would appear ever.
    Time to start representing the demographic of the country that didn't vote Tory. We can't expect Labour to recompense & mature in time for the next general election so until there is a party worth turning out to vote, he should stand his ground. Sadly at the stage where I understand entirely why turn out is low.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 559.

    Clegg should be secretly glad that Lords reforms has failed. A seat in the Lords, alongside the rest of the political deadbeats that make up his party there, is now his only chance of meaningful employment after politics.- He would never have got elected to go there by the public; and if he ever gets returned by the people of Sheffield Hallam- they're clearly a lot dimmer than I'd ever thought!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 558.

    Clagg's problem with HIS Lords' Reform is that he is trying to secure power through the back door!......... Whatever the rforms might eventually be, the primacy of the Commons must be preserved!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 557.

    Clegg may think showing " tit for tat " because of the failure of the Lord's bill will earn him support... Not really, boundary changes are supposed to balance voting areas. No change wouldn't make a bg impact at the next
    election. Will he get much support then should be his main concern!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 556.

    @539.
    It does so amuse me to hear this new disingenuous tactic of Tory/UKIP voter to put out the myth that what we really need is MORE Capitalism.
    They and their ilk gloated 22 years ago over the supposed fall of Communism and the Victory of Capitalism.But now it seems they would have you believe that we have bankers walking around the city with copies of Karl Marx under their arms. Pathetic !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 555.

    Hello, hello... Country in worst recession since goodness knows when, unemployment creeping up, Europe about to go bust.. does this REALLY matter gith now? MPs & Government - keep your eye on the ball please, there are far more urgent matters right now that you should be working on 24/7. This is a sideshow!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 554.

    Taxi for Clegg

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 553.

    Congratulations Labour on supporting the Tory borderline borderline far-right wing to achieve this blocking of the best chance we've had of achieiving Lords reform in a while, but most importantly reminding me why I still can't vote for you - you care more about point scoring and screwing over the average Joe as a side effect of this rather than getting things done and fixing the country.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 552.

    It always seemed clear that the ex members of the thuggish Bullingdon Club now residing in Downing Street, particularly 'Pasty George' would shaft the spineless and cowardly Lib/Dem jokers at the first real opportunity.
    After all he is the 'chief strategist'. He can now concentrate on achieving final economic failure.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 551.

    Well done the rebels. You have defeated Clegg and his dysfunctional party. Also, you have and Cameron take notice. The last thing we needed was a second bunch of party appointees. After 2015 the Lib/Dems will not be a factor in parliament. The public demand for a referendum on the EU will have been met. And UKIP will be a force in the commons.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 550.

    It would be interesting to hear what the men in frocks think about all this, after all, we know how relevant they are to society and their continuation in the House of lords is... well a mystery at best.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 549.

    Nick, the nation does not care about Lords reform. Okay what we have ie not perfect but the last thing we want is more "professional" politicians. Get back to sorting out the issues we care about - it's the economy stupid!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 548.

    Clegg will not leave the coalition as he loves his status as Deputy Prime Minister too much. The Lib Dems stand a better chance at the next election of keeping some seats if they grow a backbone and change their leader but I suspect they will keep the status quo

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 547.

    I'd like to see each of the Conservative MP's who torpedoed Lords reform make a pledge never to accept a peerage. Otherwise, it rather looks like they are just taking care to protect their retirement plans.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 546.

    So Clegg is now throwing his toys out of his cot. Should we be surprised? It's time he knuckled down, got a true sense of his own low level of importance and did some work. I'm delighted he will vote against the boundary changes, it will ensure that I can still vote conservative in the constituency where Vince Cable is the sitting MP and I know I'm far from alone in that intention.

 

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