Nick Clegg accepts that hopes of Lords reform are receding

Economic crisis forces subject off the agenda

Plans for an elected House of Lords are likely to fall victim to the Coalition's desire to convince voters it is prioritising economic growth.

Conservative ministers believe Nick Clegg's flagship scheme will die a "slow death" as it runs into strong opposition in both the Commons and the Lords.

A Lords Reform Bill will be included in the Queen's Speech today after Mr Clegg rebuffed demands from Tory MPs for it to be dropped. But yesterday the Deputy Prime Minister appeared to downgrade the importance of the measure.

At an event with David Cameron aimed at relaunching the Coalition, Mr Clegg said: "I care a lot more about apprenticeships than I do about House of Lords reform. I care a lot more about the fact that, as of next April, two million people on low pay will be taken out of paying income tax for the first time... I care more about children from disadvantaged backgrounds doing well out of school and getting ahead and having real opportunities in life than I do about House of Lords reform."

On their joint visit to a tractor factory in Basildon, Mr Cameron appeared lukewarm about the Lords shake-up, describing it only as "a perfectly sensible thing for Parliament to consider". He said: "I wouldn't for a moment say that this is the most important thing the Government is doing. Of course it isn't. But Parliament is capable of doing more than one thing at a time... What matters, the things we are really focused on, are getting the deficit down, getting our economy moving and creating a country and a society that is more worthwhile."

Last night Clegg allies denied that the proposal for 80 per cent of the Lords to be elected is being diluted, insisting the Government remains committed to it. But there is growing speculation at Westminster that ministers will pull the plug if, as looks inevitable, the Bill is delayed and threatens to clog up the parliamentary timetable.

One option being floated is a trade-off in which both the Lords shake-up and plans to cut the number of MPs from 650 and 600 and bring in new constituency boundaries are shelved until after the 2015 general election.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg reaffirmed their commitment to the Coalition's core purpose of repairing the economy, but admitted that securing growth had been more difficult than they had predicted two years ago.

Labour seized on a comment by the Prime Minister, who said during a question and answer session with staff at the factory, "what you call austerity, what I might call efficiency". Chris Leslie, a Labour Treasury spokesman, said: "How out of touch can David Cameron get? His so called efficiencies actually mean deep cuts to frontline services like police officers, slashing tax credits for working families and raising taxes on pensioners."

Mr Cameron will today insist that the Coalition's "number one priority" remains dealing with the deficit and stimulating growth. But he will also highlight measures to tackle crime and support the family as evidence that the Government is in tune with voters' anxieties and is about more than simply a "cuts agenda".

A Families Bill will set out plans to make the adoption process quicker and overhaul support for children with special needs or disabilities.

A Communications Bill will include controversial plans to monitor emails, text messages and website visits. The most contentious sections will be published in draft form. But one Liberal Democrat critic said last night: "If we don't like what we see, we will have no hesitation in vetoing it."

Pressure from Liberal Democrats secured a Banking Bill to separate the retail and riskier investment parts of high street banks and make it easier for people to switch accounts, and an Electricity Bill to secure a long-term future for renewable sources.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit