The Tories won’t rule out giving themselves a majority in the House of Lords by creating hundreds of new peers

Jon Stone
Tuesday 27 October 2015 10:02 GMT
Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons
Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons (Getty Images)

The Government has not ruled out creating hundreds of new Tory peers in the House of Lords to give itself a majority there, a member of the Cabinet has said.

Chris Grayling, the Leader of the House of Commons, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the Government would not "rule in or rule out" any measure when asked about the idea.

Mr Grayling also claimed that the House of Lords had voted to stop tax credit cuts because Labour and the Lib Dems were “unhappy they lost the election” and that the opposition parties had simply decided to “wreck the Government’s programme”.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said last week that he would support the creation of more than 150 peers to be absolutely sure the Tories could pass whatever legislation they wanted.

“I wouldn't go for 150. I'd go for more than that. You've got to make absolutely sure,” he told the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.

New research from the Electoral Reform Society suggests that that creating the 100 peers required for a working majority would cost taxpayers at least £2.6m, however.

The cost has been calculated based on the average expense and allowances claims for peers in the previous parliamentary session: £25,826 a head. This is despite the chamber sitting for only 130 days a year.

Mr Grayling's comments come after peers voted to delay the imposition of tax credit cuts by three years pending transitional controls to protect the poorest.

“I think this is all about Labour and Liberal Democrat peers in the House of Lords who are unhappy that they lost the election,” Mr Grayling told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The Liberal Democrats have eight MPs and 100 peers deciding that they want to wreck the Government’s programme.

“If it is their intention to tear up the rules that have applied for the half a century and say ‘we are happy to throw out the programme of the electred government’ then of course we’ve got to address that.”

Mr Grayling would not rule out creating hundreds of new Tory peers to give the Government a majority and force the cuts through.

The Chancellor George Osborne this morning said he would respond to concerns about the tax credit cuts in the Government’s Autumn Statement, due in the coming months.

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised on Sunday that Labour would not make political capital out of any U-turn.

Public opposition to the policy appears to be hardening, with a ComRes poll for the Independent On Sunday suggesting that 43 per cent disagree that the cuts are needed – compared to 34 per cent who do.

Mr Cameron effectively ruled out cutting the benefit before the election, telling a voters’ question time event that he “rejected” proposals to cut tax credits and did not want to do so.

They were not specifically outlined in the Conservative 2015 election manifesto in May.

The cuts are part of £12bn welfare cuts that the Conservatives say they will make to hit their deficit targets.

A study by the Resolution Foundation think-tank found that 200,000 children would slide into poverty immediately after the tax credit cuts go ahead.

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