UK & World News
Lords Reform: Clegg Insists He'll Press Ahead
Nick Clegg has vowed to press ahead with reforming the House of Lords despite it prompting a bitter split between Tory and Lib Dem MPs and a humiliating Government climbdown.
The Deputy Prime Minister made clear that he expects David Cameron to deliver on the policy, which has now been delayed following a major rebellion by 91 Tory MPs.
Hours after a Commons vote left the coalition damaged and despite rebel Tories declaring the plans a "dead duck", Mr Clegg insisted there was no going back on moves to create an 80% elected upper chamber.
Speaking outside his London home, he said: "We were never going to do this in one leap. It was always going to happen in stages.
"You have got to be determined, you have got to be patient so that it eventually happens. I think a House of Lords fit for the 21st century quite obviously needs democracy right at its heart."
He added: "A coalition is like a contract that any two people sign in everyday life. You sign a piece of paper, like a contract, saying these are the things we are going to, these are the obligations we make to each other.
"A deal's a deal... It is important that we deliver House of Lords reform because it is a clear commitment in the coalition agreement."
The comments set the stage for a lengthy coalition battle and comes after senior Lib Dems warned there would be "consequences" if Mr Cameron did not find a way to win round his backbenchers.
It has already been suggested that the Lib Dems could block boundary changes in retaliation, a move that could cost the Tories up to 20 seats at the next general election.
With Labour backing the coalition's reforms, MPs voted by 462 votes to 124 in favour of a second reading of the Bill on Tuesday night, giving a massive majority of 338.
But amid a mood of bitterness and recrimination on the coalition benches, 91 Tory MPs defied David Cameron and voted against the reforms in the biggest rebellion of this Parliament.
The Prime Minister reportedly angrily confronted one of the rebel ringleaders, Jesse Norman, following the vote and accused him of not behaving honorably.
And there was a separate incident in which Mr Norman was approached by Tory whips as he drank in a Commons bar and told he should leave the building.
Two junior Government ministers, Angie Bray and Conor Burns, who had been warned they would be sacked if they carried out their threat to rebel, were among those to go against the Government.
Ms Bray was sacked immediately after the vote from her job as parliamentary private secretary to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and Mr Burns earlier resigned as aide to Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson.
"I knew this was the consequence," Ms Bray said. "I am very sorry that I found myself in this position because I have very much enjoyed working for Francis Maude."
Senior Tory MPs rebelling were led by Father of the House Sir Peter Tapsell and included 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady, former Deputy Speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst, David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and John Whittingdale.
And they included former ministers Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Peter Lilley, John Redwood, Christopher Chope, Edward Leigh and Sir Winston Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames.
But there was also a large number of the 2010 Tory intake among the rebels, including Tracey Crouch, Nick de Bois, Caroline Dineage, George Eustice, Philip Lee, Louise Mensch, Penny Mordaunt, Bob Stewart, Rory Stewart and Robin Walker.
Some 26 Labour rebels voting against a second reading, including veteran ex-ministers Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett, Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Sir Gerald Kaufman and Geoffrey Robinson.
The vote came hours after Commons Leader Sir George Young announced a dramatic Government climbdown by withdrawing a timetable motion on which the coalition had been facing near-certain defeat by Labour and Conservative rebels.
The motion had proposed limiting debate on the Bill to 10 days but was opposed by many Tories as well as the Labour Party, who wanted more time for scrutiny.
Sir George told MPs: "We remain committed to making progress on Lords reform and with second reading behind us we will then consider how best to take this agenda forward and how best to secure progress through the House for reforms that have the backing of this House."
He said he would put forward a new timetable motion - regarded as vital for the Bill to make progress through the Commons and prevent time wasting and delaying tactics by opponents - in the autumn.
But rebels insist they will threaten to defeat the Government once again and so the Bill may still be blocked by opponents. Following the withdrawal, Mr Norman said: "The Bill is a dead duck."
During the second day of the Commons debate on the reforms, there were ugly clashes between Conservative rebels and Liberal Democrat MPs.
And when Mr Burns announced his resignation from the Government in his speech during the debate, he was cheered loudly by fellow rebels.
"I couldn't look myself in the eye if I voted for this Bill at second reading and clearly that is incompatible with membership of Her Majesty's Government," he told MPs.
what do you think?
buly boy tactics being used again disgusting thought we were a free thinking country!!! fancy them taking thier bat home carry on rebelling dont let the bullies rules !!!!
The house of commons has shown that democracy isn't the answer. Why would we want yet another house full of self-serving sleazebags without any concept of reality? Can I suggest a house of champions instead, made up of people who have reached the pinnacle of their chosen field and been recognised for doing so by winning medals or awards. A VC would gain entry, a gold medal in the Olympics or Paralympics, a Nobel prize, and so on.At least that way we would have a steadying influence on the commons from people who have actually achieved something. Derek Derenalagi would definitely get a place.
Come on mate. Actually recognizing talent and ability in this country? Bloody nice thought but you've more chance of knitting sawdust. Too many chancers with too much influence and not enough common dog or decency. Wish it would happen though.
Woohoo! The beginning of the end for this shambolic coalition. Ta ta Cleggy, shame you made your party totally unelectable for ooooh about two decades!
All of the Conservatives who voted against it should leave the party and become Independants. This will then end this Government and we have a new General Election. About 90% of tory backers would vote for independants or UKIP so Cameron would lose his seat and the Government. The same with all Lib Dems and Osbourne and all the EU supporting MPs.
Labour promised to vote against it but like a load of other promises they have lied like Cameron and voted with the Coalition. Cameron voted with Labour under Blair and Brown more times than every other Conservative Head had done in 200 years. Now Milliband is doing the same but other Labour heads had never done it.
Well done the 91 Conservative freedom fighters Of all the vital issues facing this country, messing about with our constitution and funny marriage nonsense are utterly irrelevant.
What a complete farce. There's something sickening about watching the ruling classes play political poker at our expense. So Clegg is trying to portray this as a triumph? While the political elite are gazing at their navels, the rest of us are enduring unemployment, cuts to wages and services, sky high fuel bills etc. Funny how the main political parties seem united on one thing...that millions of ordinary people should be made to pay to prop up THEIR capitalist system while their rich friends continue to rake it in. While our politicians play musical chairs, more people are wondering just what are they doing to actually improve OUR lives? The Tories are about to be split from head to toe. Clegg's party will be wondering what's in this coalition for them. And Labour will be rubbing its collective hands thinking the baton will be passed to them so they can impose their agenda of 'nicer' cuts. Isn't it about time our unions broke away from Labour and formed our own party, and represented OUR interests? Full employment, living wages, house-building programme, take control of all banks and uitlities.
So beautifuuly put Christopher...well said
Windows Live User
"that millions of ordinary people should be made to pay to prop up THEIR capitalist system while their rich friends continue to rake it in." Never a truer word spoken. And as you said the other idiots Labour thinking its coming their turn to get their snout into the trough. Still next party in can spend the next two years blaming their predecessor for the mess we are in....thats all they teach them to say when studying politics at uni.
Arrogant,pompous, supercilious, self serving pratt
got that right jim
Windows Live User
More. More !
never did like clegg the name of the party sounds good especially the LIBERAL part but does clegg or his stalwarts actually know what the word means.i very much doubt it. when he got into bed with the torys i can remember him saying that the sdp were going to be the consience of the torys intead of that being the case he has just rolled over every time for cameron like a puppy wanting its belly rubbed
Clegg how dare you preach about sticking to deals, you made a deal with the electorate to abolish tution fees, you have more faces than a townhall clock. You and your party will be decimated at the next general election. Your reason for trying to get this ill thought out bill through, is so that you can have a slim chance of retaining some influence in goverment. The liberals shot themselves in the foot by allowing the tories to form a goverment, that has succeeded in making a crisis into a catastrophe. Please pull out of the coalition and let the country have its say on its record.
Windows Live User
It's always about try to hold onto a bit of power. Clegg trying to use this bill to keep some seats. Cameron wanting to move the goalposts to get a few more mp's into seats. While the country rots. They are a disgrace yet thick skinned, as we all call them names and shout out their past promises, and still they do nothing that we want. A visit to the local mp's surgery is called for to remind them of their promises, but all you get is that glazed over look. Totally switched off. Do not care attitude. Knowing they have the power and we are wasting our time......or are we?
Why oh why Mr Cameron did you pull out of the programe vote, it would have been defeated, the coalition would have been rent asunder,and, hopefully you would have had to go back to the country to try and get a mandate to run the country, of which I believe that there are two chances, fat and no. The real hard working people of this country have seen where your priorities are, and they know it is not with them.
Windows Live User
Wow, such anger and feeling in these posts, as well as a H.E L.L of a lot of truth I hope a copy is handed to cameron. milliband and clegg so they can see what the nation really thinks of them and theitr politics instead of beleiving they are doing a good job