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 745.

    713 They can't , Cameron changed the rules so now 55% voting for a dissolution is required, designed so the LibDems could not simply up sticks and vote with Labour to cause it (e.g. as now where Labour have a massive poll lead).
    Rebel conservative could vote against their own govt , however they would normally be thrown out the party for doing so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    Clegg the man to break nearly every promise he made & fail to gain the only two he tried to keep,now that is a new kind of politics so he keep that promise i suppose

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    As a Labour supporter let me heartily congratulate both the Tories and the Lib Dems; the latter for irrevocably damaging the so-called 'coalition'; the former for their tactical blunder in provoking the Lib Dems into non - co-operation on electoral boundary changes. That will damage the Tories far more than changes in the Lords would have, which will go through in the next parliament anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.

    When are these people going to do what WE want? Maybe most folk didn't vote for Glegg (and they won't now after the student loan debacle) coz they didn't want his policies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    Clegg is wrong again. The Conservative party has not failed on its support of the Lords reform but some Conservative MP's have put their country before their party. If you want to see raw politics in action just look at Labour's position, they support the changes but the party's MP's vote against the changes to frustrate the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    I can't believe this is real - surely it's a smoke-screen for another utterly deplorable coalition policy. Kids up chimneys?
    727. rockandhardplace
    The richest just got a reduction in 5% while the rest of us got more. The Tories have also made it easier to avoid the richest from paying tax, avoidance has become much easier and the UK is now actually a tax haven for those abroad

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    I think it's ridiculous. Regardless of whether you think it's a priority or not (and given the amount of money it costs the economy to run this ineffectual house perhaps it should be) it was a key agreements between the conservatives and the liberal democrats. But it does show us that a Conservatives promise is as water tight as a drain pipe and that they cannot be trusted. Bring on the election!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    To cure our "Undemocratic House of Lords" we need to fix:

    1. Fractional politics, from different points of view, splits public votes.
    2. Undemocratic Democracy (We have representational democracy).
    3. Unaccountable leadership within parliament.
    4. No Written Lawful Constitution that is by STATUTE of the people.

    Let us start with point 4. first because nothing rises without good foundation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    Why the BBC is not opening for comments the accusation from the US authorities that the London based Standard Chartered Bank schemed illegally with Iran and laundered $250 billions over the last 10 years.

    Because that's part of the REAL cause of the global and therefore UK financial disaster, NOT grannies tax allowance, poor childrens free school meals tec...

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    Sorry Clegg your party and your views are lost like tears in the rain. Your party is nothing more than a row of seats on the right side of the chamber. Your vacuous ideas about Lords reform so no depth of thought or reflection of public opinion. The desperation to sit in the corridors of power has destroyed all the progress made by the LibDem party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    welcome mr clegg to our world ,we vote you in on the promises you make before an election, for you all to promptly break them once your in office. you ve done it yourself so your as bad as the other two parties, but you ve had more say with the conservatives than you would of done with labour, you would been shut away in a cupboard somewhere are wheeled out occasionally just to prove your alive

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    That would be because like the American coach who said about the Chinese Swimmer allegations are not substansive. luckily for them the Chinese have plenty of dollars and buy their product

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    I was a Lib Dem. I now look forward to the complete annihilation of this power hungry greedy spineless party. They make me sick with their two faced untrustworthy antics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    There is not only cross party consensus, also agreement between the two Houses that the Lords need reform.

    Not only that, but common ground as to the form that should take:

    Hereditaries to be phased out; an Appointments Commission to replace polital appointments.

    Cameron's between a rock and a soft place then, so will no doubt find it tough...

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    How can it be that no one is interested in the reform of the House of Lords? Following months of Riots, protests about this aspect of British Democracy?. Oh sorry I was thinking about Syria not the House of Lords. Nick Clegg needs to wake up to reality, no one cares about the House of Lords, and it seems to work OK, why fix something that aint broke? Fathead

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    No Mr Clegg, this sounds more like a tantrum than politics.
    All parties had HoL reform in their manifestos. You had an elected HoL. Whatever arrangements were made to reach a Coalition were between politicians hungry for power. The reality is we do not want an elected HoL, but yes a smaller one with no politicians in it. There are more important issues than this to consider.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    quite right but the £500 is anti democratic gate to many with cost on top,but at the next election it might just be worth the gamble,my election promise is fairness & honesty & to get rid of that £500 undemocratic tax on liberty

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    I prefer the system that membership of the senior house is reserved for those born to this role - much fairer than appointments made by the likes of Blair, Brown and Cameron and just as likely to suffer with dementia.
    Getting those clowns in Westminster to vote for reform resulting in democracy is like turkeys voting for Bernard Mathews

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    722. Norman Brooke - What are these tax cuts to the rich or these benefits you speak of? I am speaking as a pensioner by the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    The Lib Dems tried to improve on the amount of Parliamentary seats through Electoral reform and increase Lords presence through Lords reform, They failed in both, selling their souls by voting with the ultra right wing Tory party who have stabbed them in the back, They ignored conference who knew what was happening and will lose many voters me included, the British public will never forgive them.


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