UK Politics

In quotes: Reaction to government U-turn on House of Lords reform

The government has dropped plans to reform the House of Lords in the face of stiff opposition from some Conservative MPs.

Nick Clegg said the Conservatives had "broken the coalition contract" and his party would now withdraw its support for Conservative-backed changes to parliamentary boundaries.

Here is some reaction to the news.

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats

I am disappointed and very angry. It's not just Liberal Democrats; there will be many people in all the parties, people belonging to no parties, who thought at last we would have a government which would modernise our Parliament, which would make sure that both ends of the building were democratically elected.

We thought we could deliver. And the reason we thought we could deliver was when we negotiated the coalition agreement that was something the Tories signed up to. I'm afraid they haven't delivered.

But we have to face reality...It's no good trying to force it... Nick Clegg has pressed the pause button. That (Lords reform) will go on pause, as will the implementation of the boundary change, which was something the Tories specifically wanted.

We're saying to them you can't have it all your own way. If you can't deliver something, you've got to also accept that there will be something that you want that can't be delivered by us either.

George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer

We've not been able to proceed on Lords reform, frankly, because there is opposition in Parliament and the opportunism of the Labour Party.

But I think we've got to use this moment as an opportunity to focus 110% on the economy, which is what the country wants. We will use the time in the House of Commons that would have been used for the House of Lords Bill to focus on some economic measures that are going to create jobs and get this economy moving.

The coalition is a strong coalition in the national interest, which is governing in the interests of the country and sorting out the economic mess that it inherited...We will cross any issues around the boundary vote when we get to them.

Sadiq Khan MP, shadow justice secretary

Today's humiliation for the government is a spectacular failure of leadership from David Cameron.

David Cameron's weakness in not being able to control his own party and deliver on the coalition agreement shows a Prime Minister lacking the leadership our country deserves.

Although it is not our number one priority, Labour remains fully committed to Lords reform. That is why we took the unprecedented decision of voting for the Bill in the House of Commons despite some serious reservations about the legislation.

Nick Clegg suddenly finds it impossible to support the reduction in the number of MPs and the parliamentary boundary changes. But if it is such a wrong policy, he should have opposed it in the first place, just as Labour did. Instead, he actively supported it.

This government's approach to constitutional reform is in tatters. They have inflicted huge damage because of their behind-the-scenes horse trading and self-serving, partisan changes to our parliamentary boundaries.

Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary

The really important thing about his coalition is that we came together to sort out the economic mess that we inherited from Labour.

There isn't a cigarette paper between us on that. That is what we are focused on getting the gold medal for. Nothing is going to change that focus.

Brian Binley, Conservative MP

I hope that Nick Clegg recognises that a deal was done.

And that deal was done in terms of the coalition agreement that they would have their referendum - on what most people in this country thought was a waste of time quite frankly - the Alternative Vote scenario and that we would, as a quid pro quo, get support for the boundary revision. It now seems to me that the Liberals are drifting away from that agreement. It doesn't surprise me. It saddens me.

Lord Carlile, Liberal Democrat peer

I think the Liberal Democrats need to have another look at their proposals for reform, which I believe were ill-thought out. They would not have produced the kind of democracy in the House of Lords that Mr Clegg wishes to have.

John Whittingdale, Conservative MP

David Cameron said to us just before Parliament rose that he was going to take soundings across the party to find out whether there was any way in which we could find a solution which people would support. I think the answer became pretty clear that was no and that there was overwhelming opposition in the Conservative Party to any form of elected House of Lords.

Lord Steel, former leader of the Liberal Democrats

I think it would be very petulant and immature to sort of stamp our feet and say, "oh we haven't got what we want, therefore we're not going to do anything". To walk away from this with nothing would be, I think, a great mistake. There is a chance to make fundamental reforms to the House of Lords - less so the issue which they wanted, which was the elected upper chamber, but we can still do lots of other things.

Baroness Deech, crossbench peer

Can we now expect the Lib Dem peers who pressed for this change to vacate their seats in the Lords? The logic of their presence was that they were there only in order to vote for the abolition of the House and its replacement. If that is not going to happen, why would they want to stay in a House they regard as unworthy? Somehow I don't think they will take this step. Moreover, what are the odds on our seeing Lord Clegg there one day when and if he ever loses his Commons position? (from Lords of the Blog)