Lords to fight reform in courts

MEMBERS OF the House of Lords are planning to take Tony Blair to court if the Government forces through its plan to throw hereditary peers out of the Upper Chamber, writes Rachel Sylvester.

A group of peers is amassing a "fighting fund" to sue the Government if ministers use the Parliament Act to implement its legislation abolishing the voting rights of those with inherited titles. The plan could delay the removal of the hereditary peers by up to five years, even if the legal challenge is eventually defeated.

The Government has warned that it will use the Act to force through the proposals after a year, even if they are rejected by the House of Lords. However, peers have been advised by constitutional lawyers that the Act is open to challenge on the grounds that it was illegally forced through Parliament in 1949.

Lord Kingsland, the shadow Lord Chancellor and himself a constitutional lawyer, is among the peers discussing the plan to use a legal technicality to save a hereditary element in the Lords.

Although this is not official Conservative policy, it has won wide support on the Tory benches. "There is certainly a question mark over the legal position of the Parliament Act," a senior Tory source said. Another peer added: "There is a powerful revolt brewing."

The peers are being advised by Michael Shrimpton QC, a barrister who specialises in constitutional law. He said that in his opinion the Parliament Act, passed in 1949, was "null and void" because it had been forced through despite opposition from the Lords.

"The Parliament Act was never approved by the House of Lords," he said. "If the Government used this to force its proposals through, that would be illegal. Then the question would arise: if it's illegal, how would the Government stop the hereditary peers voting?"

The peers are threatening to challenge the Government in the High Court. If they won their case and ministers appealed, this could lead to the House of Lords itself sitting in judgment on the matter, as the highest judicial body in the land.

Mr Shrimpton believes that in such an extraordinary constitutional case the whole House would have a right to assess the case, rather than just the elite corps of law lords.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a Tory life peer, said he had "grave doubts as to whether one House of Parliament is empowered to radically alter the composition of the other without the specific consent of the British people".

Lord Stoddart of Swindon, a Labour life peer, is also aware of the proposal. "If the Government has to use the Parliament Act, then I think it may well be that a number of peers will take it to the courts," he said.

"One part of Parliament cannot amend the composition of another part of Parliament ... I believe if you are going to have reform, it should be fundamental reform."

Suggested Topics
News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
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

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

£24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits