Tag Archives: lords reform

Nick Clegg’s press conference: A new policy, looking ahead to an “independent, liberal” manifesto, Iraq, leadership and Smarties

Nick Clegg Q&A 19I promised you a bit more from Nick Clegg’s  monthly press conference this morning. Overnight, he had released his opening statement, but there was a surprise to come – a shiny new policy.  Now, obviously, that has to come to Conference so it’s not set in stone, but I suspect it will get a favourable hearing.

From cradle to college

Basically, all early years and school education funding, including the Pupil Premium, will be ring-fenced.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg: Kick the crooks out and drag the Lords into the 21st century

Nick Clegg has written about the need to reform the House of Lords in today’s Mirror in response to the latest mini-scandal concerning Lord Hanningfield. When I read the first sentence, my blood pressure hit the roof:

What’s worse than a greedy Lord clocking in to work for just a few minutes a day to pocket hundreds of pounds from the taxpayer?

What’s worse is when the same peer – caught red handed as a result of the Mirror’s excellent investigative efforts – shrugs their shoulders and tells you: everybody’s doing it.

But there are lots of good ones who work really hard, …

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Opinion: The party needs a better nomination system for the Lords

Like many others, I let out a sigh of resignation when I saw that yet more appointments are being made to the unelected and unaccountable House of Lords. Nothing against the individuals receiving a peerage this week (some of whom I have known personally and all of whom I’m sure will be excellent representatives), but yet again it’s a fairly predictable mix of ex-MPs and party insiders.

Liberal Democrats are right to nominate their own choices for these positions – better off having an influence over a broken system than being excluded from it altogether – but it got me …

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Lib Dems set to name 7 new peers for House of Lords, says Sunday Times

rumi verjeeToday’s Sunday Times front page (£) splashes with a ‘Cash for peerages row hits Clegg’ headline. The reality is slightly less exciting: Rumi Verjee, a prominent donor to the Lib Dems, is apparently top of the list of seven names put forward for peerages:

Rumi Verjee, a multimillionaire who brought the Domino’s pizza chain to Britain, is top of a list of seven names compiled by the Lib Dems who are expected to be awarded honours within weeks. He has given £770,000 to the party since May 2010. … Verjee

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Labour and Tory MPs have a new twist on an old game. Block democratic reform. Then criticise lack of democratic reform

clegg on levesonLabour and Tory MPs have a new favourite hobby. It’s one they’ve been practising for decades, but they’ve really refined their art in the last three years.

Basically it works like this…

A political scandal happens. Abuse of expenses by MPs or cash-for-questions/honours/favours, that sort of thing. Everyone demands reform. This must never happen again, they say. Cross-party talks are immediately convened. Then re-convened a few months later once the pressure’s off a bit. And finally they’re abandoned once they’re sure people have got bored with it all and …

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Lord (Paul) Tyler writes: Political reform has been lost along the way by the Coalition

Houses of ParliamentI first spoke in a Queen’s Speech debate in March 1974. I recall being mystified by that vital penultimate sentence heard again in this year’s speech: “other measures will be laid before you”. It is these innocent, innocuous words which turn out to be quite important. And they give hope that there will be other vital measures excluded at present from the text of the Speech itself.

There are two commitments in the party manifestos and the Coalition Agreement that seem to have been lost along the …

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Simon Hughes says that Lords reform is still on the Liberal Democrat agenda

The Financial Times website carries an article suggesting that senior Liberal Democrats are preparing to make the issue of Lords reform a deal breaker in any future coalition negotiations. It quotes Deputy Leader Simon Hughes as saying:

If the time did come for more coalition negotiations, the experience of coalition the first time will be clearly taken on board when we think through what we would do a second time. The constitutional reform agenda and particularly reform of the Lords would have to be a part of the package.

The article goes on to say that sources close to Nick Clegg …

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Tories lose boundary review vote, Lib Dems vote against Coalition partners for first time

The Boundary Commissions - book coverThe BBC reports this afternoon’s vote:

Plans to redraw constituency boundaries before 2015, backed by the Tories, have been defeated in the House of Commons. MPs voted by 334 to 292 to accept changes made by peers, meaning the planned constituency shake-up will be postponed until 2018 at the earliest. It was the first time Lib Dem ministers have voted against their Conservative coalition colleagues in the Commons. The two parties have been in dispute since proposed elections to the House of Lords were dropped last

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Opinion: We should elect all Liberal Democrat nominees to the House of Lords

In 2012 House of Lords reform failed. In 2013 it’s time for Liberal Democrats to show their continuing commitment to democratic reform.

We clearly can’t get the law changed at the moment but we can make a clear, unambiguous statement of intent. It’s just simple democracy and it’s easy; the membership should elect the Liberal Democrat candidates for the Lords. One simple motion at the party conference and a bit of commitment from the leadership is all it takes.

Well of course it’s not that simple, so let’s examine a few of the arguments against and the counter arguments:

This is just internal

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Lords reform is dead! Long live, erm, a bloated, ineffective, undemocratic Lords!

The Guardian reports today that dozens of new life peers are to be appointed to the House of Lords:

Political parties are preparing to draw up lists for dozens of new appointments to the House of Lords in a move that will reignite controversy over creating peers just months after the collapse of legislation to dramatically reduce the second chamber. The move, which is expected to create at

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Paul Tyler writes: Progress postponed

There was no talk this year of banning champagne at the Conservative Party Conference. Perhaps there was no danger of exuberance among delegates. As recalcitrant Tories sought one-in-the-eye against Nick Clegg by erasing Lords Reform from the Coalition Agreement, their party’s treasured redrawing of the UK electoral map was duly jettisoned too. Without a stronger second chamber to challenge the executive, it would have been wrong to reduce the size of the House of Commons, thereby increasing the proportionate dominance of the government’s ‘payroll’ within it.

Clearly, the failure of the most comprehensive attempt to reform the composition of the Lords …

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Opinion: Could there still be a bright future for Lords reform?

Unless we are admitting defeat or  consider the electorate agog with admiration of the status-quo, we perhaps need to look beyond  the seemingly  compelling case for democratic legitimacy and begin developing some more imaginative ideas about what a reformed second chamber  might do  differently and explore its potential for transforming  politics.

Limiting the level of ambition for our shiny new democratic institution to the pursuit of the same old objectives of itself does not seem like a great leap forward.

It also leaves us vulnerable to the tactics adopted by the Conservatives and their press allies, who assiduously sought to cultivate public …

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The party with the British instincts

Rather nice graphic from Liberal Martin:

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There’s zero chance of Clegg cutting any boundary deal with Tories over party funding

There’s zero chance of Nick Clegg cutting a deal with David Cameron on boundary changes in exchange for party reform — that’s the firm message I’ve got from some of those closest to the Lib Dem leader in response to my post last night, Nick Clegg should say no to any link between state funding and boundary changes.

It’s pretty rare for in-the-know Lib Dems to contact me unprompted about a story and to refute it in no uncertain terms: we’re just not that kind of a top-down party. So when I get various messages with outright denials that there’s …

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Nick Clegg should say no to any link between state funding and boundary changes

It’s August, so I’m not going to take too seriously kite-flying suggestions by Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph that Nick Clegg might consider rescinding his threat that the Lib Dems will vote against boundary changes (following the Tories’ decision to break the Coalition Agreement over Lords reform) in return for a deal on party funding which would include state aid for political parties:

Here’s how it was presented to me: over the next year or so Mr Clegg will find a way to back the boundary review when it comes up for a vote in the Commons. In exchange, Mr

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LibLink: Tavish Scott – Clegg’s stance gives Lib Dems new hope

Former Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott has an article in The Scotsman this week looking at what he terms hyperbolically Nick Clegg’s “ripping up the UK government’s coalition agreement” after the Tories’ decision to block Lords reform:

For the party, this was a bitter pill to swallow. Many people were attracted to the Lib Dems because of constitutional reform. A Scottish Parliament, a Bill of Rights and elections using fairer voting systems are the DNA of most Lib Dems.

Getting rid of the unelected House of Lords is part of the package of moving Britain into the 21st century. Reform has

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Lords Reform – reflection​s from Alaska in the rain

And so, what some, myself amongst them, feared as inevitable has come to pass, as serious Lords reform goes the same way as electoral reform, probably dead for a generation. Here, aboard the MV Columbia, shrouded in fog at the ferry terminal in Haines, it is hard, almost impossible, to tell what is ahead, a bit like the next few months of coalition. Better to look back, perhaps.

I’ve been something of a pessimist on the likely success of Lords reform from the early stages of the process. That could be because, whilst in retrospect the signs were always there, nobody much wanted to see them.

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Opinion: Why scrapping Lords Reform is ultimately a disaster for Cameron

Many of the more right-of-centre newspapers are declaring that the government calling time on Lords Reform is a victory for Cameron personally. Iain Martin’s piece summarises this thesis.

I would argue the precise opposite. I think the whole episode has been a disaster for Cameron and damaging to the Conservative party overall, albeit in a minor way, at least when you take the fact that their only even vaguely electable possible leader has been politically debased out of the equation.

A question that has hung around the neck of Cameron since the near miss of the 2010 election is this: would …

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Opinion: Unelected Lords are against the spirit of the European Convention on Human Rights

For as long as philosophers and political campaigners have asserted that certain rights are basic, universal or inalienable, the right to elect one’s legislators has generally figured in those rights.

England’s 1689 Bill of Rights protected the right to elect Members of Parliament without interference from the Crown.  In France the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man guaranteed the right to vote. In America, five separate Articles of the US Bill of Rights protect voting rights and both Houses are elected under the Constitution.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides:

Article 21

(1) Everyone has the right to take part

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Paul Tyler writes… Conservative crisis, Labour leaderless

It’s a good job I’m not a betting man, having said here in July “my bets are strongly against the Government giving up at this point”.  But now we know:  David Cameron’s authority within the Conservative Party is so weak that he cannot even persuade his MPs to support an agreed manifesto commitment, and a Bill unanimously supported by his Cabinet.  Cameron and Osborne voted for the 80% elected component as long ago as 2003, yet this summer their right-wing backbenchers simply would not accept elections at all.

Unsurprisingly, concern for future of their own constituencies – as boundary changes …

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Opinion: What the Tory backbench rebellion means for parliament

Failing to get reform of the House of Lords through the Commons shows a parliamentary asymmetry. There are enough Tory backbenchers to defeat the government, but not enough Liberal Democrat backbenchers to do so. One party’s backbenchers have de facto veto power, but the other’s do not.

There are three responses to this constitutional oddity.

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62% of Lib Dem members agree with Clegg decision to vote down boundary changes over Tories’ Lords reform retreat

Lib Dem Voice polled our members-only forum recently to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 446 party members responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

What party members say about Tory breach of Coalition Agreement

LDV asked: Within the package of constitutional reforms proposed in the Coalition Agreement was a pledge to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies and re-draw them to ensure each individual’s vote counts roughly equally no matter where they live. It is believed by electoral experts this will benefit the Conservatives and have an adverse

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Lords reform: what the failure means for the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg

First up, here’s Nick Robinson’s take on yesterday’s events followed by myself, via the BBC News Channel:

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Chris Rennard writes… Restoring balance to the Coalition

Nick Clegg’s statement dropping Lords Reform in this Parliament should come as no surprise following David Cameron’s failure to persuade barely half of his backbench MPs to support the Government’s Bill on this.

Two years ago, Conservative MPs were supporting a Queen’s Speech that made explicit the Coalition agreement to elect members of the House of Lords through Proportional Representation.

The Coalition Agreement is the contract that underwrites this government. In its name many Liberal Democrats have voted for compromises in legislation that we would not on our own have put forward.

So, the question is what to do when one side fails to honour its side of the contract?

You act swiftly and decisively, even ruthlessly, as Nick Clegg has done, to redress the balance. Hence, the boundary changes are no more.

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The Coalition Agreement does not commit Lib Dems to supporting boundary changes

Over the last couple of months, Conservative MPs and commentators have made great play of the fact that the Coalition Agreement does not explicitly commit the Tories to voting for House of Lords reform. Let’s remind ourselves of its words again:

We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for

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Boundary reforms must now be dropped, but Lib Dems should avoid petulance over Lords retreat

The news that David Cameron has been unable to persuade Conservative MPs to support the House of Lords Reform Bill is disappointing, but unsurprising given the scale of the threatened rebellion. Liberal Democrats must accept this situation – frustrating as it is – and concentrate on what is now important: the party’s response.

Anger will be the natural reaction of many in the party – and understandably so. Liberal Democrat MPs have walked through the Aye Lobby more times than they care to remember to support Conservative measures from the coalition agreement. Yet when it comes to doing their bit …

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Lords reform: what next?

Four quick thoughts before I go off in search of chocolate, pizza and friends (in reverse order of priority, of course):

1. The last rites on Lords reform for this Parliament have not yet quite been uttered, though it’s striking how those in government I’ve spoken to are all now pretty much just talking about what the repercussions are rather than how it might yet go through. Will Ed Miliband be tempted to mix opportunism with principle and say, ‘No problem about those Tory backbenchers; we’ll support this measure?’.

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LibLink: Chris Rennard – Failure to deliver Lords reform will not threaten the coalition

Over at the Guardian, former Lib Dem chief executive Lord (Chris) Rennard has argued that the fall of Lords reform would be a blow to Lib Dems, but that it was not the key aspect of the coalition agreement to voters:

Failure to deliver on the most important aspects of constitutional reform would, of course, be a bitter blow to Liberal Democrats. But the party will also recognise that the constitutional package within the coalition agreement was not the most important aspect of it to the voters, nor was it nearly as important as the state of the economy as

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++ Clegg to announce Lords reform sunk; Tory rebels defeat Cameron; first breach of Coalition Agreement.

The Guardian reports tonight:

Nick Clegg is expected to announce next week he has been forced to abandon Lords reform in the face of implacable Conservative backbench opposition that David Cameron has been unable to overcome. … Clegg has to decide whether to respond to the Lords rebuff by insisting legislation designed to cut the number of MPs to 600 should be abandoned. The change is being promoted by Cameron as a way of cutting the cost of politics and equalising the electoral size of constituencies.

Lord Rennard, the Liberal Democrat peer and former party chief executive, denied the reverse on

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Lord Rennard: “There’s no substitute for democracy”

Liberal Democrat peer and campaigning guru Chris Rennard went on Radio 4 yesterday to respond to the Earl of Glasgow saying that we should back down on Lords reform.

Lord Rennard said that there have been  plans for an elected Lords were not Nick Clegg’s alone and that there had been efforts to reform the upper House for 50 years before Nick Clegg was born.

He took a mild swipe at his Liberal Democrat colleague Lord Steel when asked about the latter’s plans to limit the reforms to allowing voluntary retirement and sacking those peers who don’t attend. Those things, said Rennard, …

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarpeter tyzack 1st Sep - 12:05pm
    going back to 'the Sunday Papers', did anyone see an article about Clegg and Davey on a Trade Delegation to India..? I thought not, it...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 1st Sep - 11:57am
    Yes the sensible thing for the Conservatives, in view of their poor showing in the Daily Mail opinion poll for Clacton, would be to refrain...
  • User AvatarBill le Breton 1st Sep - 11:54am
    Great Liberal - best of comrades.
  • User AvatarNigel Cheeseman 1st Sep - 11:44am
    I often wonder why the greens have under- delivered electorally. It is undoubtedly the case that they will suffer the same sort of antipathy as...
  • User AvatarPeter Chegwyn 1st Sep - 11:39am
    Very sad news. A friend and colleague to many of us over many years, Simon's wit and wisdom really will be missed.
  • User AvatarIan Eiloart 1st Sep - 11:22am
    The threshold for NI is not an annual threshold. It's calculated weekly, which results in unfairness for people who don't earn all year round: they...