Nick Clegg to explain decision over Lords reform

 

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will explain to MPs later today why the Government has decided not to press ahead with reform of the House of Lords.

In an oral statement to the House of Commons at around 3.30pm, Mr Clegg is expected to restate his decision to withdraw Liberal Democrat support for Conservative-backed changes to constituency boundaries in response to the collapse of plans to introduce democratic elections to the Upper House.

No new announcements are expected today, as the Deputy Prime Minister will instead use his statement to update MPs formally on the position he set out in a press conference last month.

Mr Clegg said on August 6 that he agreed to shelve the plans rather than see them face a "slow death" in the Commons after Prime Minister David Cameron failed to reach agreement with opponents on the Tory backbenches who were threatening to obstruct their passage through Parliament.

The Deputy Prime Minister said then that the Tories had broken the coalition "contract" and that, as a result, his Liberal Democrat MPs could no longer support changes to constituency boundaries for the 2015 general election.

Mr Cameron denied the contract had been broken, and said he intends to press ahead with the boundary changes, which would reduce the size of the House of Commons from 650 to 600 seats. It is thought the changes could deliver as many as 20 extra seats to the Tories, by equalising the size of constituencies across the UK.

Proposed changes to the make-up of the Lords would have seen 80% of peers elected and the total number of members halved to 450.

An elected Lords is a long-cherished goal of the Lib Dems but one opposed by many Conservatives - more than 90 of whom defied the Government in a vote on the issue in July.

PA

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