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 1025.

    I guess his pal, Cameron, will be as disappointed as Clegg himself. Glegg has a sence of humour: The Lib Dems mature and competent!
    I wish we could have Labour & the Tories as they were back in the 60s to 80s where we had a choice & when everyone just ignored or laughed at the Liberals. Now labour & the tories actually take on their nonsense. They don't understand the British people any more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1024.

    I don't have much time for the fellow but surely he has a decent minister who can guide him against making too many ultimatums when the fairly obvious consequence is only going to be his own humiliation.

    Yes it is unfair, underhand and manipulative.


    Might be time to start considering options with Labour - if only they would put the right brother in the chair at last.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1023.

    1018. Selby1066

    Where would all this wealth go to
    Not the bankers, thats for sure, wouldn't mind a crack at the $32 trillion hidden offshore and using it to start a bonfire that we could burn all the bonds on.

    It's not a redistribution of wealth I'm after, just a fresh start, I've no problem with people earning money during their life, I just want a more level playing field.

  • Comment number 1022.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1021.

    Was Mensch ever a good constituency MP?

    Will she be remembered as such?

    Or will she be remembered as a class A self publicist who was only interested in fostering herself?

    What legacy will she leave behind?
    Was she parachuted in by Conservative central office?
    Did they run her constituency for her as she swanned about?
    Will they be there for the next one?

    Is this the shape of things to come??

  • rate this

    Comment number 1020.

    An apologetic stance and words are probably a distraction.
    Get the crowds to believe you are no longer interested in that there thing.
    Only to jump upon it, grab it and have it in one quick go while nobody is watching.

    Too many of the public have doubts about the safeguards of our democracy, if the House of Lords were consigned to the bin.

    They may be crackpots, but keep the lid on the loonies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1019.

    Anyway, back to the bickering schoolboys and their feeble attempt at a 'coalition'. It must be clear, even to the die hard Tory/libdems that the sham marriage of convenience is finished. Where to next? Well the economy can't sustain this much damage and still be expected to recover. Nearly 3 years and all that has happened is the recession has turned into a depression and, is still getting worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1018.

    1016 - Name Number 6.

    A ban on inheritance is only remotely radical !
    Where would all this wealth go to, or would we be expected to blow the lot just before we breathe our last ! Or would it go to the very politicians that all of us seem so keen to put down at this late hour.
    And remember people need to vote for it

  • rate this

    Comment number 1017.

    Hopefully the Libdems will realise the whole nasty depriving disabled and poor a false prophecy born of the right wing conservative republican teabagger i want a piece of the 100 billion pound a year neocon bigots but here's hoping yeah.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1016.

    1012. Selby1066
    Please adjust your default setting and stop labeling anything that is remotely radical and left of centre as Communist, reactionary politics has got us nowhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.

    'Are you paid by the labour party or their employers the unions'

    No, we fight fascism for free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.


    Debunking not spamming.
    You've sat there, counted my comments and listed the numbers. That suggests you probably collect cacti, or record the sounds of trains.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    7 Minutes ago
    I've lost all hope in HYS now. etc.

    Well I live in a Tory place & they say it's about the best to retire to as well, There are lots here saying the oposit to you, Retired conservatives get ill & disabled like everyone else, there's quite a few too & being a mainly rural area, without DLA for transport they're housebound! Right now the HOL thing is nothing to them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    "a Government that looks after all the people and not just vested interests and a ban on inherited wealth, hows that for starters?"

    I told you Communism has already been taken - didn't catch on, nobody voted for it so they had to ban elections for 60 years. I think it is you that is not getting it. You need to bring the people with you otherwise they start rebelling, you see

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    I've lost all hope in HYS now. You can't have an informed and reasonable debate any more. Any comment that is even slightly supportive of government policy is instantly attacked by ultra left wing reactionaries...

    Don't give up, we have the same trouble with right wing fascists who believe government policies are working even though they have created a depression.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    Cameron now dares to come out in his true colours. Safe in the knowledge that he will be riding an Olympic style victory parade.
    His worry is Boris. Not Clegg.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    995. Billythefirst
    Political donations need to cease,so that we're not governed by caribbean pirates or the square mile Dick Turpin brigade
    At least Dick Turpin wore a mask.

    997. Selby1066
    Can you suggest some radical alternative.
    Oh I don't know, how about a Government that looks after all the people and not just vested interests and a ban on inherited wealth, hows that for starters?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    @ Billythefirst

    Are you paid by the labour party or their employers the unions, you have been ere all night spamming for attention, i bet you wait for the timer to count down to post your next comment lol.

    Comments by you 985,967,951,943,924,910,896,867,839,819 in just over an hour and the list goes on for hours. I really hope you are getting paid or what a waste of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    Adam, You said you can't have an informed and reasonable debate any more because of ultra left wing?! Do you want conservatives on either side of your debate?! Is your way and thoughts the right way and others should not have an opinion? You are on right fast track path for a current conservative - to be converted in to a Fascist in near future

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    All this about Lords Reform being in the 'Coalition Agreement' - Where exactly is this commitment?
    Linking the failure on this to much needed boundary changes (something Clegg said he would not do) is petulant and ill-becomes a party that aspires to be taken seriously. At £200K a pop those 50 less MPs would save an easy £10 million!


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