Tory MPs scorn Clegg's House of Lords reforms

Nick Clegg's flagship plan for an elected House of Lords ran into an immediate storm of protest which cast doubt over whether he would be able to force it through Parliament.

Although David Cameron and other Tory Cabinet ministers rallied behind Mr Clegg, he provoked an open revolt by Tory backbenchers when he unveiled his proposals in the Commons.

The overwhelming majority of Tories who quizzed him during an uncomfortable 75-minute grilling poured scorn on his blueprint.

They ridiculed him for proposing that peers be elected by proportional representation (PR) so soon after losing the referendum on the voting system for general elections – and demanded another referendum on his Lords shake-up. Tory MPs cheered when Labour MPs joined them in raising fears that elected peers would challenge the long-established supremacy of the Commons.

An unbowed Mr Clegg is determined to see the first peers elected for a 15-year single term on the day of the 2015 general election, when the existing 750-member second chamber would be reduced in size by a third.

His draft Bill proposed a 300-member Lords, with 80 per cent of peers elected and 20 per cent appointed as at present. The 60 appointed members would be independent crossbenchers and the number of Church of England bishops would be reduced from 26 to 12.

Mr Clegg vowed to "use all the instruments" at the Government's disposal – which means whipping Tory MPs into line and, if necessary, using the Parliament Act to overcome strong opposition to the changes in the Lords.

A ComRes survey of 121 peers found that 78 per cent opposed a 300-member second chamber elected by PR, with only 15 per cent in favour. Although 67 per cent of Liberal Democrat peers backed the idea, it was supported by only 13 per cent of Labour peers and 7 per cent of Tory peers.

Mr Cameron signalled his personal support for Mr Clegg by sitting by his side at the start of his Commons statement. Earlier, at the Cabinet's weekly, he won strong backing from ministers including George Osborne, Theresa May and Liam Fox.

But the barrage of criticism from Tory MPs raised questions about whether Mr Cameron would be prepared to take on his own backbenchers over an issue seen as a Liberal Democrat priority – and expend energy and time on what would later become a pitched battle with Tory peers. For this reason, many MPs expect Lords reform to be kicked into the long grass next year after a joint committee of MPs and peers narrows down the options published yesterday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower