Lords Bite Back

But Government Presses ahead with reforms

Ministers remain determined to press ahead with plans to scrap the job of lord chancellor and create a supreme court, despite a House of Lords defeat on Monday (8/03/2004). Tory and crossbench peers voted 216 to 183 to send the law plans to a special select committee for extra scrutiny.

While the Commons, with Labour's 166 majority, has become largely a rubber stamp for Government legislation, the House of Lords is taking seriously its role of scrutinising and revising Bills. The Government sought to blame an "orchestrated Conservative campaign" for the defeat. Local Labour MP Clive Soley said there was a "very deliberate attempt" by a large proportion of Tories in the Lords to wreck the Government's moves for change.

The Conservatives certainly played a big role in ensuring that the motion to refer the Bill to a select committee for further detailed scrutiny was carried against the Government's wishes.

Although the Tories are still the largest grouping in the Lords, they no longer command an overall majority.

11th March 2004