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The tax credits defeat happened because the Tories are still paying a price for not winning a majority in 2010

October 27th, 2015

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The UK politics version “A peerage is for life not just for a parliament”

Whenever I see animal welfare posters like the one above I think of the Coalition agreement of May 11 2010 – the day that David Cameron became PM after reaching an agreement with Nick Clegg and his team.

For in recent days there’s been some comment that the Liberal Democrats are in a very strong position with 100+ peers in the House of Lords – a total that is disproportionate to the 8 MPs they were left with after the general election in the House of Commons.

During the five years of the Coalition the total number of Liberal Democrat peers just about doubled. This was because of the section of the agreement on House of Lords reform.

The idea was that during the last Parliament the upper house would be reformed and made into an elected chamber. In the meantime it was agreed that the proportion of Lords that a party had would be linked to their national vote sshares at the 2010 election.

The thinking at the time was that these new peers would really be temporary appointments whose role would terminate once a new structure had been put into place. After all both coalition partners, in public at least, had committed themselves to creating this.

As we know that all didn’t happen following the commons rebellion by Tory backbenchers in July 2012. The process for extra peers, however, remained, and the yellows saw a huge expansion in their numbers in the House of Lords. They are there for life and not just for a parliament.

Without them the Tories would have escaped unscathed from last night’s voted on Mr Osborne’s tax credits changes.

Mike Smithson