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Lords reform set to face up to 100 Tory rebels

The two-day debate on House of Lords reform begins today, with the Government facing a backbench Tory rebellion over the plans to create a smaller, mostly elected second chamber of Parliament.

MPs are due to vote on a timetable for the Bill tomorrow, with Labour expected to oppose the programme motion. The Government is seeking to limit the time MPs can spend discussing the issue to ten days, but if this fails, Lords reform could derail the Government’s entire legislative agenda, with opponents able to delay the Bill indefinitely through filibustering – continuing to speak in debates until time just runs out.

The reform would cut the number of peers to 450, with 80% of them elected, a third at a time, for a single 15-year term. All three main parties promised to reform the Lords in their 2010 general election manifestos, but how exactly the Lords should be changed has been controversial for decades.

A pamphlet urging MPs to support the Government’s plans has been distributed by pro-reformers, and reads: “Our proposition is simple: the clear majority of those who come to the Lords in future should do so by virtue of success at the ballot box, not their connections to political party leaders or former monarchs.”

Up to 100 Tory backbenchers could rebel against the Government and oppose the plans.

The Liberal Democrats have called the vote a test of the Prime Minister’s leadership.

One Lib Dem told the Guardian: “A defeat would be unprecedented because the coalition has not been defeated before. It would take us into uncharted territory.

“Each time Nick [Clegg] has been asked to deliver a vote he has delivered it, including in difficult areas like the NHS and welfare reforms. This is a test of David Cameron’s leadership.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]

(Image of the House of Lords Chamber: Parliamentary copyright, reproduced with the permission of Parliament)


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