WASH-UP A SQUALID LITTLE STITCH-UP – LIB DEMS

Liberal Democrat Peers this week led opposition to an end of Parliament deal between Labour and the Conservatives, which saw key constitutional reforms deleted from the CRAG Bill.

The two establishment parties voted together to leave the hereditary principle in tact in the Lords and to scrap Brown’s proposed referendum on introducing the alternative vote for elections to the Commons.

Speaking in the Lords, Lib Dem spokesman Lord Tyler denounced the move as ‘a squalid little stitch up.’ He confronted ministers with their broken promises and asked ‘After 13 years of dither, delay and downright deceit, why should anyone believe another Labour promise on reform of the Lords?’

Turning to the Conservatives, he said, ‘”No change” seems to be the new Conservative slogan. So much for “Vote for change”. They will go into the election fighting in the last ditch to protect the hereditary principle in your Lordships’ House, and they want to make certain at the same time that the public have no role whatever in deciding how our democracy should be reformed. Back to the future with the dinosaurs.’

Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, earlier likened Labour and Conservative manifesto promises on political reform as like ‘consumer guarantees from Del Boy’.

Commenting afterwards, Lord Tyler added:

“How dare the Tories pontificate about the possibility of ‘deals in smokefilled rooms’ if ever the electoral system were changed when it is they who demanded, in secret, that people be denied their say in a referendum. “It is an outrageous end to a rotten Parliament.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

· Labour’s manifesto commitments on the House of Lords and the electoral system follow:

Tony Blair committed any Government he led to bringing “an end to hereditary peers sitting in the House of Lords as the first step to a properly directly elected second chamber, and the chance for the people to decide after the election the system by which they elect the government of the future”

Tony Blair, My Vision of a Young Country, 1996

“We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons.”

Labour Party manifesto, 1997 General Election

“A referendum remains the right way to agree any change [to the voting system] for Westminster.”

Labour Party manifesto, 2001 and 2005 General Elections

“The House of Lords must be reformed. As an initial, self-contained reform, not dependent on further reform in the future, the right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute. This will be the first stage in a process of reform to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative.”

Labour Party manifesto, 1997 General Election

We are committed to completing House of Lords reform, including removal of the remaining hereditary peers, to make it more representative and democratic.

Labour Party manifesto, 2001 General Election

In our next term we will complete the reform of the House of Lords so that it is a modern and effective revising Chamber

Labour Party manifesto, 2005 General Election

Lord Tyler’s full speech is available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200910/ldhansrd/text/100407-0002.htm#10040737000597

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