Theresa May 'shelves proposals to curb House of Lords power'


Theresa May has dropped plans to curb the power of the House of Lords, according to reports.

The proposals were drawn up by Conservative Lord Strathclyde, who was commissioned by David Cameron to review the power of the Lords after the Government suffered a humiliating defeat over George Osborne's plans to cut tax credits in October last year.

They would have stopped peers from vetoing statutory instruments - a form of legislation implemented without Parliament having to pass an Act.

Instead, peers would have been limited to asking MPs to "think again" about planned legislation, leaving the final decision to the elected House of Commons.

Responding to BBC reports that the plans have been shelved by the Prime Minister, a Number 10 spokesman said: "We will be publishing our response to the Strathclyde review in due course."

The plans had been described by a parliamentary committee as a "disproportionate response" to the defeat of Mr Osborne's plans to cut £12 billion of tax credits.

The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee described peers' decision to vote down Mr Osborne's proposals as "the Lords legitimately exercising a power that has only been exercised on five occasions and which even Lord Strathclyde himself has admitted is rarely used".

Without appropriate safeguards, Lord Strathclyde's favoured reform would risk "substantially" diminishing the Upper House's influence and role in scrutinising statutory instruments, encouraging the Government to make further use of them, the committee said.

The move is a "big mistake" and risks peers blocking Brexit because the Tories do not have a majority in the Lords, according to Lord (Digby) Jones.

The crossbench peer suggested the PM has miscalculated if she thinks treating the Lords well now will win peers' support on crunch votes in the future.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I would have stuck to my guns because I think they're going to live to regret it on all of the Brexit stuff coming down the pipe.

"When you've got eight Liberal (Democrats) in the Commons and you've got 100 Liberal (Democrats) in the Lords and they want actually to stay in the EU and they'll do anything to stay in the EU, I think they'll rue the day."

He added: "I think it's, in political, legislative management terms, a big mistake because this stuff is going to be huge coming down the pipe in a year's time."