By Paul Goodman
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The Financial Times this morning reports Downing Street as insisting: “Lords reform was in our manifesto and the manifesto of the other two parties. It was a crucial part of the coalition deal. We are not planning to let this blow us off course.” This statement suggests that there was a commitment to a Lords reform bill in the Conservative Manifesto. There wasn't. Nor is there one in the Coalition Agreement.
Here is the Manifesto:
"We will work to build a consensus for a mainly-elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence."
And the Agreement:
"We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long term of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election."
So there you have it: no commitment to a bill.
Did I hear you say that it is reasonable to presume that the Government will act on the committee's proposals? In which case Ministers will surely honour that committee's recommendation that the matter be put to a referendum.
> Yesterday's ConHome report on the 1922 Committee: 'Worse than Maastricht' – Tory MPs warn that Lords reform could split the party.