House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament


8:50 am - July 13th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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House of Lords reform is dead. I’d be very surprised if it actually happened in the course of this Parliament.

The main reason it won’t happen is that there are too many Conservative rebels who won’t be placated under any circumstance. The size of the rebellion was bigger than the government expected and they simply won’t back down.

The other reason, of course, is that Labour won’t go along with the bill as is.

I’ve already made my position clear: I’d have no qualms in killing it as a way to cripple the Coalition and its destructive agenda. Given that we now know Nick Clegg chose House of Lords reform over killing the NHS Bill – I have no sympathy whatsoever.

But I’m not espousing the Labour party’s official position, which is straight-forward.
Here’s Sadiq Khan:

But just because we want to see reform doesn’t mean we will blindly throw our weight behind the Government’s Bill. As it stands, it is a sub-standard Bill – elements of it are unpalatable. So there’s no blank cheque from us. If the Bill as it stands were implemented in full, reform of the second chamber would be botched. And that would set back the whole constitutional reform agenda for a generation. This must be avoided at all costs.

The only way Nick Clegg can get this done is if he works with Labour.

Emma Burnell offers some advice:

Well first the Lib Dems must reach out to Labour. They won’t like this, but their dismissive and hateful attitude is – in part – what has brought us to this place. Their unwillingness to negotiate the Bill with Labour properly in the first place instead presenting a deeply flawed Bill with a “like it or lump it” attitude was largely why Labour said they would force a defeat on the timetable. Clegg must send a team Labour can work with (i.e. not David Laws) to negotiate behind the scenes and thrash our enough agreement to see a way of getting the Bill through the Commons allowing Labour to support closure motions when their amendments or those they support in improving this Bill have been accepted. If Labour and the Lib Dems can use the summer to productively produce agreement that both sides accept and fully understand, then this Bill can be rescued.

I don’t see it happening. Nick Clegg is too proud and too hectoring to work with the Labour party over this. He will keep pressing Cameron to rein in his rebels, but to no avail.

I am virtually certain that House of Lords reform is dead for now. By next year the Coalition will have other priorities and this will be forgotten.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. Matt Kelly

This deification of Labour and demonisation of the Lib Dems on here is gettting irksome.

A question for the author: IF the bill was as Labour wanted already, Sadique Khan is saying they would have backed it. Then the reason you put forward in your earlier would not be applicable, and Labour would have supported the bill. Do you really believe this?

I’ve noticed that my Labour friends, who are usually prepared to tow any line, are sheepish about this one, as the untruths and party politics are so obvious.

2. Matt Kelly

Sorry, meant ‘in your earlier *article*’

Whether the House of Lords ‘works’ or not is debatable, that it is undemocratic is undeniable.
That situation has existed for far too long. That Parliament has debated it for over a hundred years tells us they have no intention of meaningful change.
Our elite ruling classes are perfectly happy to provide a taxpayer funded club for their unwanted M.P.s and Party donors.
I am no student of history but it seems to me that there were few countries that afforded their citizens democracy as a right.
In most cases it took civil unrest or revolution.
As long as we remain loyal to these same parasitic scum and keep voting for them, expect more of the same.
If we don’t change, nothing else will.

Sunni, you’re right – the House of Lords isn’t going to reform – because none of the political parties are in the mood to bring it about: Tories don’t want it; the Lib-Dem leadership doesn’t have the political wit to bring it about; and Labour are quite happy to watch the issue bring the coalition to boiling point.

As an aside – I’ve been musing about what would have happened had Labour and the LIb-Dems gone into coalition in May 2010 – would things have been different? Follow the link for my take: http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2012/07/how-would-a-lib-lab-pact-have-worked-out-after-may-2010/

I suppose it all depends on what you want. If democracy is the answer, the question must be “given the public disillusionment with politicians, how can we get more politicians into the frame?” I’m not convinced that the public really want this. Cross benchers are more highly regarded than party hacks.

How is Nick too proud to work with Labour? He worked with Labour on AV didn’t he? Labour had plenty of tactical reasons to vote to keep the current undemocratic setup – but for most of the last century the Tories had a built in majority in the Lords – this is what Labour are preserving. This is the kind of short term focus from Labour that got us into this economic mess.

7. Shatterface

I am virtually certain that House of Lords reform is dead for now. By next year the Coalition will have other priorities and this will be forgotten.

And Labour will take pride in having played its part in the msintenance of a feudal system, for which they will duly be knighted.

How is Nick too proud to work with Labour? He worked with Labour on AV didn’t he?

Not exactly. They made huge mis-steps with the AV campaign, though that was mostly the fault of the Libdem people who ran the campaign than clegg’s people.

The AV campaign should have always focused on Labour voters – who were the swing voters and were needed on side. Instead, the staff of the AV campaign and its focus was biased towards Libdems. Early on it was attached to them, and didn’t pivot to get Labour on side quickly enough. And so it never convinced Labour voters.

9. Craig Nelson

What we have left is Lord Steel’s sorry and rather inadequate Bill. Oh well.

10. Charlieman

@OP, Sunny: I can’t help noticing that the proposition _Nick Clegg chose House of Lords reform over killing the NHS Bill_ was delivered by Sunny to less than universal agreement.

My observation is a bit late, but if I asked any politician what they wanted to do, I’d expect to hear about things that they wanted to enact. Nick Clegg delivered two straightforward responses.

If I wanted an answer about what a politician did not like (especially in a coalition situation), I’d ask awkward questions. Nick Clegg was not asked those questions.


I am shocked that relationships between LibDems and the Labour Party are so bad that “reaching out” is a requirement. However I am happy to take Emma Burnell’s arguments on face value; HoL reform should be something that is accepted across the sane divisions of all parties. I disagree with Emma Burnell about the need for a referendum; citizen enthusiasm to maintain HoL, as it is, has escaped my vision. I think it is up to MPs (all of them, including the Scots Nats) to make a decision.

If the choice for a reformed HoL is determined by referendum, logically all future changes to its powers must also be determined by referendum (or internally). If the initial design of a reformed HoL, determined by referendum was wrong a second referendum would be required to change it. And another referendum to correct the principle that HoL limits by be determined by HoC.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament http://t.co/8WXDZfXV

  2. Eugene Grant

    Lords reform not going to happen this Parliament | @libcon http://t.co/ZB2Jm0Gk >> @sunny_hundal once again considered and on-point

  3. Jason Brickley

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament http://t.co/3HaDD2Th

  4. DEYANN MARCONNY ®©

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament http://t.co/8WXDZfXV

  5. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament http://t.co/0zfaUQaG

  6. James Graham

    Some good points but you'd think that Clegg pilliories Labour MPs on a daily basis not vice versa: http://t.co/v4C9obYN @sunny_hundal

  7. BevR

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/DeJExIti via @libcon

  8. sunny hundal

    House of Lords reform is basically dead. It won't happen. Here's why I think that http://t.co/ZKyvIAm9

  9. Gods & Monsters

    House of Lords reform is basically dead. It won't happen. Here's why I think that http://t.co/ZKyvIAm9

  10. Alan Marshall

    Some good points but you'd think that Clegg pilliories Labour MPs on a daily basis not vice versa: http://t.co/v4C9obYN @sunny_hundal

  11. Robert CP

    Some good points but you'd think that Clegg pilliories Labour MPs on a daily basis not vice versa: http://t.co/v4C9obYN @sunny_hundal

  12. Lords News

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament …: House of Lords reform is dead. I'd be very sur… http://t.co/v51USgJR

  13. BevR

    House of Lords reform is not going to happen this Parliament | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/DeJExIti via @libcon

  14. sunny hundal

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU

  15. SheffieldUncut

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU

  16. Phil Randal

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU

  17. Martin Grouch

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  18. Summer Teh

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  19. Hussain Cheema

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU

  20. Foxy52

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU

  21. Angie Pedley

    Telegraph: Cameron to drop House of Lords reform http://t.co/pZRXr5e0 // Me in July: it isn't going to happen this Parl http://t.co/CB84XSpU





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