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Ken Clarke: Lib Dems behind timing of House of Lords reforms

A purely Conservative Government would not be pressing ahead with reform of the House of Lords in this parliament, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke admitted today.

The existing House of Lords is a curious historical anomaly.

We are ready for democracy, I think. All three political parties were in favour of House of Lords reform in their last manifestos.

The Liberals probably have determined the timing. I think doing it now in this parliament has happened because the Liberals are anxious to get on with it.

– Ken Clarke speaking on Sky News' Murnaghan programme

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Blunkett slams Clegg's 'dogs dinner' Lords reform

Labour former home secretary David Blunkett said:

The implementation of Nick Clegg's proposals to change our centuries-old system of parliamentary governance is ill-thought through and will have wide-ranging repercussions.

An elected senator, having been voted in rather than appointed, would not feel bound by the customs and practice that have applied to an unelected chamber - and will undoubtedly come into conflict with the House of Commons.

Meanwhile, the so-called senators will be highly unaccountable - elected to serve non-renewable 15-year terms and unanswerable to the voters in the normal fashion of an elected chamber.

This dog's dinner of a proposal should be thrown out and, in any case, any proposal for a referendum should take place before legislating on the detail and not afterwards.

Government should 'stick to its guns'

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

We can understand why unelected Lords might have little time for accountability or manifesto commitments. These MPs have no such excuses.

Every one of these wannabe-rebels ran for Parliament on a promise of Lords reform.

Now they seem prepared to sacrifice their own Government's entire legislative programme to bury it.

It sends a strong signal to their constituents that their manifestos weren't worth the paper they were printed on.

The Government is right to stick to its guns. No party went into the last election defending the status quo, and if Lords reform is ever to see the light of day it will require all parties to stay committed.

Miliband 'surprised' at Tory Lords rebellion

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he was firmly behind proposals for a fully elected House of Lords.

He said: "A referendum on the issue is a good idea, and we have said this previously in our manifesto.

"But I don't quite understand why the Government is setting its face against giving the people a say.

Ed Miliband
Ed Miliband Credit: Reuters

"We have made our position in wanting a referendum for a 100% elected House of Lords very clear.

"Am I surprised at the way some Tories have threatened a rebellion against the issue? Look, that's a matter for them and I will leave the Tories' problems to themselves.

"There are lots of more important issues facing our country right now such as health, education and jobs."

Lords reform 'could bring down coalition

Conservative MP Peter Bone said many of his colleagues on the Tory backbenches were dispirited at the prospect of Lords reform being placed at the heart of the Government's agenda in next month's Queen's Speech. He said:

It is a huge problem for the Prime Minister and he knows it's a huge problem.

It certainly could bring the coalition down, though whether it will I don't know.

The one thing the Liberal Democrats are demanding is Lords reform because Nick Clegg has failed on everything else, and if he gets this then he will go down in history as the Liberal leader who achieved something they've been trying to do for 100 years.

Presumably there will be some sort of sweeteners, and the Prime Minister will say we will reach some sort of compromise.

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Cameron committed to Lords reform

Downing Street said David Cameron remained committed to reform of the House of Lords.

"Both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister are committed to Lords reform," a No 10 spokeswoman said.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg
David Cameron and Nick Clegg Credit: Reuters

She added that all members of the Government would be expected to support the legislation when it comes to Parliament.

"If it is Government policy, one expects the Government to support it," she said.

She said ministers were "not persuaded" by calls for a referendum on the issue.

House of Lords 'stuffed with dinosaurs'

A senior Liberal Democrat peer has warned Conservatives that they must back coalition plans to reform the House of Lords - despite a threatened revolt by Tory backbenchers.

State opening of Parliament 2009
State opening of Parliament 2009

Senior Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott insisted today that the plan was part of the coalition agreement and should be supported by MPs of both parties. He said:

"Our vast unelected House of Lords is overstuffed with complacent dinosaurs.

"Electing both Houses of Parliament is a simple democratic principle, it's in all three major parties' general manifestos and the coalition agreement.

"So all coalition MPs should back it - and Labour mustn't drag their feet on this long overdue reform."

House of Lords reform provokes 'stormy' Tory meeting

Conservative MPs are reported to have lined up to condemn House of Lords reform proposals - set to form the centrepiece of next month's Queen's Speech - during a "stormy" meeting last night of the party's backbench 1922 Committee.

A number of ministerial aides are reported to have indicated they would rather resign than support legislation for a largely- or wholly-elected upper chamber.

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