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
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

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test