Blair faces rebellion over Lords reform

TONY BLAIR was last night facing a rebellion by Labour peers against his plans to reform the House of Lords, with rebel Labour members threatening to join forces with the Tories to oppose the shake-up.

Several Labour life peers believe that ministers are wrong to press ahead with the abolition of the speaking and voting rights of hereditary peers until a "stage two" plan to turn the Lords into a partly elected second chamber is agreed.

The Government's move to set up a Royal Commission to study long-term reform, which was intended to placate potential Labour rebels, appeared to have backfired last night. Labour rebels and independent cross-benchers warned that ministers would use the inquiry as an excuse to delay or abandon a "big bang" reform.

The former Labour MP, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, welcomed the commission but urged ministers to delay abolishing hereditary peers' rights until the commission reports.

"It seems to be ridiculous to go ahead," Lord Stoddart said.

"I don't think positions should be taken before the commission reports, otherwise there is no point in setting it up. Suppose the commission says you ought not to have ended the [rights of] hereditary peers?" he said.

Lord Stoddart said he was prepared to join forces with other parties to oppose the plans. Asked if he might refuse to support the Bill, he said: "It is quite feasible. I shall look at the whole thing and I will have to make a decision. You can not support the Government by abstaining as well."

He warned that opposition to the Bill on hereditary peers could delay other measures in the parliamentary session starting next month. The Government could save these by shelving Lords reform until the commission reports. "All it does is to cause a lot unnecessary trouble. There is no desperate hurry," he said. "The findings of the commission will be too easily shelved or set aside if the hereditaries have already been abolished."

In another setback for the Government, Lord Weatherill, the former Commons Speaker who is convenor of the crossbenchers in the Lords, said: "There is growing unease among all types of peers. I am concerned that stage two may not happen and think ministers should say exactly when it will."

Lord Weatherill's intervention and the rumblings of discontent amongst Labour peers will bolster the Tories as they plan guerrilla tactics against the Bill, to be announced in the Queen's Speech next month, to abolish the speaking and voting rights of hereditary peers.

Lord Strathclyde, the Opposition chief whip in the Lords, said there was a "grand coalition" of life and hereditary peers across all parties building against the Government's handling of the reforms.

On the eve of a two-day debate in the Lords on the reforms, Labour backbench peers last night told The Independent they were growing disaffected with the appointment of "Labour luvvies" to the Lords as life peers, and the long hours they are sitting.

"There is a great deal of resentment. Some people are talking about scores to be settled. We are working longer hours than the MPs and Tony doesn't seem to listen. People just won't turn up when they are needed," said an ex-Labour minister who is now a life peer.

Another problem is that some senior Labour peers want the commission to have wide terms of reference including the Commons, the Lords' role as the highest court in the land and the future of the monarchy.

"I think the monarchy works well. But if you want to say that people who hold an hereditary position have no place in the Constitution, then ... you have to look at Her Majesty," one said.

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PHP / MySQL Developer (PHP, MySQL, AJAX, JQuery, MVC, HTML, XML

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: PHP / MySQL Developer (PHP, MySQL...

C# Back-End Developer (C#, .NET, ASP.NET, SQL, MVC-4, TDD, BDD)

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C# Back-End Developer (C#, .NET, ...

Web Developer (C#, HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, JQuery, XML) London

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (C#, HTML5, CSS3, J...

C# Software Developer (C#, front-end, Java, JavaScript, VB)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: C# Software Developer (C#, front-...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried