Cabinet to cut Lords' summer holiday

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Indy Politics

The taxpayer will pick up a bill of £4m for the House of Lords to return early from its summer holidays so that the Government can clear a backlog of legislation.

The taxpayer will pick up a bill of £4m for the House of Lords to return early from its summer holidays so that the Government can clear a backlog of legislation.

Ministers are furious with Tory and crossbench peers for delaying several government bills, and are calling the Lords back four weeks earlier than the Commons to force the legislation through.

New figures to be published in the House of Lords annual report, obtained by the Independent on Sunday, show the cost of the House of Lords last year was £31m, with a further £15m spent on building works.

Some of the running costs would have occurred whether the Lords were sitting or not, but Tory peers accuse the Government of forcing longer hours on peers because its programme is in chaos.

Senior Cabinet ministers involved in the reform of the Lords have told the Independent on Sunday they have lost patience with the Tories in the Lords and are now determined to move quickly after the next election - without a consensus, if necessary - to remove most of the remaining 92 hereditary peers and to introduce around 60 life peers elected from the regions.

The defeat in the Lords on Section 28 last month dismayed Tony Blair after assurances that the Government would win. Baroness Jay told the Cabinet last week that the defeat had been brought about by crossbench "backwoodsmen" who rarely vote in the Lords.

"We want to draw attention to the record of crossbench peers who are not frequent attenders," said a source close to Lady Jay said. "The independent appointments commission will have to take account of the fact some crossbenchers aren't active players in the Lords.

"It should not be just an honour; it should be privilege that carries responsibilities."

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