Parliament: Darling accused of `major political miscalculation'

WELFARE

HEREDITARY PEERS defied government warnings that a deal allowing them to remain in the Lords may be withdrawn and led a fresh rebellion yesterday over its welfare reforms.

The 150-143 government defeat on the provision of war widows' pensions came as ministers were bracing for another revolt over plans to cut disability benefits.

Baroness Strange, a hereditary among those elected on Friday to remain, said: "If something is right and fair and true in the long run, that is what you have to do. We are not being intransigent ... This is ... simply a case of honour and doing what is right."

Lord Ashley of Stoke, a Labour peer opening the debate on his compromise amendments on the proposed means-testing of incapacity benefit, said the plans were a "major political miscalculation" by Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Social Security, which would "damage hundreds of thousands of disabled people". He also said peers had the "constitutional right and duty" to send the legislation back the Commons.

Earlier, Baroness Jay of Paddington, Labour leader iln the Lords, said: "This ... very good Bill must get through. The point I would make to the very few members of the Lords that believe it is worth pursuing in this way is that the elected House must now have its majority and the Government must get its legislation."

The Government has also issued a threat that the Weatherill amendment - to reprieve 92 hereditaries from abolition under reform of the Lords - could be ditched if the House continued its opposition.

During the debate Lord Ashley said. "As for the allegation that I put the whole Bill at risk, there are precedents for this House returning Bills to the Commons and for doing so, time and time again. There is no question of the Bill being lost, at least not today, and it is right that the Commons should be made fully aware of the cross-party views of this House.

"On the contrary, it is time for this House to assert its view to challenge this unjustified attack on disabled people, to declare the Government's comment of `no compromise' is a betrayal of the dialogue of democracy and to urge the Government, even at this late stage, to think again."

Lord Rix, a crossbencher, also dismissed the decision to link welfare reform to Lords reform. "We are talking about hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in society. A decision about their future should be taken with the utmost seriousness and not with political calculation."

During debate on Lady Strange's amendment to let younger war widows with children keep their husbands' occupational pension rights, Lord Freyberg, another "elected" hereditary crossbencher, said the government promise to review the issue was "a delaying tactic".

Baroness Hollis of Heigham, summing up, urged peers to wait for a Defence Ministry review of war pensions, due to report next summer.

"This issue needs to be considered in its full context. This is not a delaying tactic. This is not an attempt to kick the issue into the long grass."

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

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

Primary supply teachers needed in Downham Market

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: SEN Teacher required with immediate...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required for a College i...

Year 1 Teacher required in Haverhill

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Teacher required for ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week