The news that 70 Tory MPs, including four select committee chairmen and three former ministers, have signed a letter (£) vowing to rebel over House of Lords reform means that the government is almost certainly heading for defeat in tomorrow’s vote.
The letter does not commit the signatories to opposing the principle of the legislation but it does suggest they will vote against the programme motion, which would place a 10-day limit on debate. Since Labour also plans to vote against the timetable motion, the coalition will suffer its first defeat on government business in the Commons.
Here’s the full text of the letter: Dear Colleague,
We come from all sides of the Conservative Party, and are writing as reformers to express our serious concern at the current proposals to create an elected House of Lords. It threatens to pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis
- What is now proposed will undermine the primacy of the Commons, with competing chambers which will lead to legislative gridlock.
- It will create hundreds of unaccountable new elected politicians at a time when we as a party are committed to reducing the cost of politics; and
- It will produce a chamber which is less expert, less diverse and significantly more expensive than the present one.
The commitments in our 2010 election manifesto and in the Programme for government – to seek consensus and to bring forward proposals – have been fulfilled. We hope you will support us in giving this Bill the full and unrestricted scrutiny it deserves.