Clegg's plan for Lords reform faces referendum hitch

It will be the centrepiece of the Queen's Speech, but without a public vote the Bill could be stalled

Nick Clegg will reject calls for the public to be given the final say on his plans to reform the House of Lords in a nationwide referendum.

The Deputy Prime Minister will argue that there is no need for the people to approve his blueprint for a largely elected second chamber because the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all proposed a Lords shake-up in their manifestos at the 2010 election.

However, Mr Clegg will be accused by Labour of "double standards" since he advocated last year's referendum on a more proportional voting system – which he lost – and backs a plebiscite on Scottish independence.

The Liberal Democrat leader's hopes of seeing the first elected peers chosen at the 2015 general election will be dealt a severe blow later this month. A joint committee of MPs and peers which he asked to consider his Lords proposals will come out in favour of a referendum before his Bill is implemented – which, if approved, could delay the proposal.

Unlike the Tories and Liberal Democrats, Labour backed a Lords referendum in 2010 and will seize on the joint committee's report. Labour is expected to allow Mr Clegg's Bill, the centrepiece of the Queen's Speech next month, to pass the Commons but could table amendments proposing a referendum when the measure reaches the Lords, where it will run into strong opposition.

Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, said yesterday: "The public should have the final say on major constitutional reform, a position the Tory-led Government followed with the referendum on the alternative vote, and its votes in towns and cities for directly elected mayors."

Mr Clegg will appeal to Labour not to "play party politics" over Lords reform, saying a 100-year quest to modernise the chamber can be completed if the three main parties co-operate. Some Labour figures are in no mood to help the Deputy Prime Minister and, although Ed Miliband backs an elected Lords, many Labour MPs and peers want to keep the status quo.

The joint committee is expected to call for 80 per cent of peers to be elected; the 700-strong second chamber to be replaced by 450 peers rather than the 300 proposed by Mr Clegg; the number of Church of England bishops who sit in the Upper House reduced from 25 to 12; and for a debate on the respective powers of the Commons and Lords, with constitutional experts saying an elected Lords would enjoy more clout.

Mr Clegg is likely to point out that the joint committee was not unanimous in calling for a public vote. He told MPs last month: "There is an open debate to be had about when something is presented to the people via a referendum – or not."

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

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
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