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Rebels call for more time on Lords reform

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 10, 2012

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Tory MPs in the Westcountry have ramped up the pressure on the Government over Lords reform by signing a rebel letter opposing the controversial shake-up.

Usually loyal Gary Streeter for South West Devon is among around 70 Conservatives at Westminster to put his name to warning the changes threaten to "pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis".

The rebels, who also include Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton), Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon), George Eustice (Camborne, Redruth and Hayle) and Ian Liddell-Grainger (Bridgwater) are calling for the House of Lords Reform Bill to be given the "full and unrestricted" scrutiny it deserves rather than the 10 days being offered by the Government.

The Bill proposes removing the final hereditary peers from the Upper House and creating a 450-member, 80% elected second chamber.

If all of the signatories oppose tonight's crunch vote on the timetable for the Bill, which restricts detailed debate to 10 days, it is set to lead to the Government's first significant defeat.

Losing the so-called "programme motion" would pave the way for a drawn-out parliamentary battle and leave the legislation vulnerable to being "talked out" by opponents.

This would heighten tensions within the Coalition being the remaining centrepiece of Liberal Democrat constitutional reform plans, following defeat in last year's referendum on voting reform.

The letter states: "We come from all sides of the Conservative Party and are writing as reformers to express our serious concern at the current proposals to create an elected House of Lords.

"The Lords Bill is a measure of profound constitutional significance. Over time it will change the institutions by which we as a nation are governed.

"It threatens to pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis."

It goes on to warn that the changes would undermine the primacy of the Commons and lead to "legislative gridlock".

The new chamber would be "less expert and significantly more expensive than the present one", it says.

Mr Streeter said: "To impose a directly elected House of Lords on us is a huge mistake. It would exclude wise and experienced people who have a lot to offer but will never stand for election in a million years.

"As soon as we have an elected second chamber they would want power and very quickly we would have constitutional tensions that would lead to gridlock.

"The House of Lords is a revising chamber only."

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  • Jannerbloke  |  July 11 2012, 8:26AM

    Streeter is on a different planet. We should become a democracy. Unelected legislators inthe twenty first century? A revising chamber full of nice people. The task might as well be given to my grandma. As to an elected second chamber leading to gridlock, it rarely causes problems in almost all the othe mature western democracies. The appointed and rump hereditory house makes us look like a laughing stock world wide.

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  • Baby_boomer  |  July 11 2012, 7:51AM

    One of the most irritating aspects of much needed constitutional reform is the way in which those who are opposed to long overdue change continually gripe that there are much more important things for politicians to be dealing with. This is nothing more than a delaying tactic on their part, a "let's put this on the back-burner" ploy. Fact is there will ALWAYS be more important things to deal with (the economy, this crisis or that crisis), but until SOMEBODY grasps the bull by the horns, as to his credit Nick Clegg and others have tried to do, there will NEVER be any progress towards making the upper chamber democratically accountable to the wider populace. With this in mind, it is also essential that as part of any reform, those rejected by the people at the ballot box (be that at a General Election for the Commons or in any future election to the upper house) be barred from sitting in either chamber for a period of five years thereafter. There should not be any way that a sitting politician rejected by the people is allowed to walk through another door of political power as they can and indeed do at present (in theory just days after being rejected at the ballot box) and take on possibly a similar role to that held before losing a popular vote. Another matter which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later is the deferential title of "Lord". Any person elected to a reformed upper house needs a title such as Senator or something similarly non-deferential. Indeed, with the possible exception of the immediate Royal Family, ALL aristocratic titles should be abolished for so-called peers, whether they are currently inside or outside the upper House.

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  • niugnepyzarc  |  July 10 2012, 11:33PM

    what a suprise mr nutjob himself gary streeter is opposing this move, a man who already thinks Christians should have the right to bypass the law and the fact that they dont means there being discriminated against. In a modern democracy we simply cannot have unelected `lords` being able to veto laws made by elected officials, thats not even the worst thing, why are there bishops in the house of lords based on that rank alone? religion and state should NEVER mix, scrap the lot of us and give us a fully elected 2nd chamber. Its an undemocratic elitist out of date system that needs getting rid of and the sooner dinosaurs like gary streeter are made to relise this the better

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