Ahead of PMQs, backbench Tory MPs make clear their opposition to Lords reform proposals
By Matthew Barrett
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Expanding upon his earlier remarks, Jesse Norman appeared on The World At One, and described the reform proposals as "a constitutional monstrosity", saying the Bill "should never have reached the House of Commons":
"Unfortunately the Conservative manifesto didn’t contain anything like the commitment that everyone’s pretending it did and it’s a small dishonesty to pretend that it did. What the Conservative manifesto said is that the party made a commitment to ‘seek to build a consensus’ for a mainly elected second chamber. Now it has sought to build a consensus until it is blue in the face and all of that tells us that there’s no possible consensus around the bill. Now, there might have been a consensus around a more intelligently crafted set of reforms but this bill is a total nonsense."
"This bill, which is being drawn up to satisfy the Deputy Prime Minister, is clearly a nonsense. I think that most people would be pretty outraged at the idea that some grubby little deal between the Conservatives and the Liberals that says we will give you permanent controlling vote position in the House of Lords in return for you to agreeing to vote for boundary changes that will give us 20 extra seats. That is not the basis of which to proceed with major constitutional reform."
"Absolutely not. I think this is an extraordinary piece of legislation in many ways. This is legislation brought forward by a government which actually gives Parliament more power over the executive. We will actually end up with a proper, fully-fledged bicameral system, which will ensure that Parliament can hold government more to account, in many ways ensure that we get better legislation, and possibly from a Conservative point of view desirable with less legislation."
"This is major constitutional change. Major constitutional change is not usually guillotined in debate and I think if we’re going to have this debate we need to have it at length and in full and we should have it in committee, on the floor of the House of Commons, and we should take as much time as is necessary to do that. So on that basis, I would certainly be attracted to voting against any programme motion that would constrain the amount of time Parliament can debate this for."
"There are large numbers of Conservatives both in the government and on the backbenchers who know that this is simply giving the Liberal Democrats a permanent balance of power under PR in the second chamber. That's why we want a referendum, that's why we want a proper discussion in the House of Commons."
The Today feature also caused a number of Tory MPs to tweet their opposition to Clegg's reforms:
is it the curse of DPMs that they have nothing to do and even do that badly? #prescottfiasco#lordsaboliton#av-vote #fb— Mike Freer MP (@mikefreermp) June 27, 2012
Elected Lords key fact #1: At present when you elect your MP you elect the Government. That won't be true if we have an elected Lords.— Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) June 27, 2012
Elected Lords key fact #2: Tory manifesto just says “We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber”. #delivered— Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) June 27, 2012
Elected Lords key fact #3: in Wales everyone would have SIX elected pols: cllr, local AM, list AM, MP, MEP and Senator— Jesse Norman (@Jesse_Norman) June 27, 2012
Opposition to the Govt's Lords proposals should not be confused with opposition to reform. Almost everyone wants reform. Just not this.— Zac Goldsmith (@ZacGoldsmith) June 27, 2012
One Tory MP did, however, tweet his support for reform this morning:
Vote for Lords reform and do it quickly. Good bye Martin, Mandelson and other labour politicians who jumped onto the life boat.— Jake Berry (@JakeBerryMP) June 27, 2012