Lords reform: What the warring partners want
BOUNDARY changes were a key reform wanted by the Conservative leadership because of a belief that the current set-up of constituencies favours Labour and means the Tories need to win an election by about 10 per cent to get a majority.
The changes would see the number of MPs reduced to 600 from 650 and the equalisation of most of the seats to about 70,000 voters. The only seats excluded from the process were the Western Isles and Orkney and Shetland.
The Conservatives thought the coalition agreement said the boundary changes were linked to the Lib Dems getting a referendum on electoral reform. However, the Lib Dems argue that it was also linked to House of Lords reform.
Labour accused the Tories of trying to jerrymander boundaries.
There were also concerns that many people in smaller city constituencies have not been registered to vote. But the Tories insisted it was wrong that votes were not equal because some constituencies were much larger than others.
Lords reform was one of the key objectives of the Lib Dems, following the failure to change the electoral system for Westminster.
Under the proposals brought forward by Nick Clegg, the Upper House would have become 80 per cent elected and reduced to 450 peers from 800.
Future peers would have been elected for single 15-year terms, with elections held every five years under proportional representation.
The number of Church of England bishops in the House would have also been reduced from 26 to 12.
Proposals to pay members of the Lords £50,000 were withdrawn in favour of an expenses-based system.
The Lib Dems saw the reform as part of a 100-year project – it was a Liberal government in 1910 that first proposed reform – but many Tories saw the change as “constitutional vandalism”.
The bill was blocked because Tory rebels and Labour blocked a timetable motion, which would have allowed the government to force it through.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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