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70 Tory Rebels release letter opposing House of Lords reform

July 9, 2012 - London

The coalition government in UK is likely to face its first major Commons defeat in a crucial vote opposing House of Lords reform on Tuesday. Ahead of the voting on Tuesday, a group of 70 Tory rebels signed a letter opposing the House of Lords reform.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has prepared to appeal for unity over the House of Lords reform which seeks proposals for an 80% elected upper chamber. Clegg has sought to cast the vote on Tuesday. The reform will pose a test to Prime Minister David Cameron's leadership.

The 70 Tory rebels warned that the proposed reform will pile a constitutional crisis on top of an economic crisis. Among the rebels are a number of MPs who were elected in 2010. Former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind and select committee chair Bernard Jenkin are also opposing the reforms. Even as the rebels released the letter, the official spokesman of the Prime Minister has reiterated Cameron's stand on the reform. When asked if the Government is contemplating of sacking the parliamentary private secretaries who voted against the government, he said that the usual rules would apply and that the Prime Minister expects them to vote with the government.

What is the Government proposing?

The government led by Prime Minister David Cameron wants 80% in the Upper chamber of the UK parliament, the House of Lords, to be elected. They believe that the current unelected chamber is not democratic. They also want to cut down the number of peers to 450 from 826. Instead of allowing peers to be lifetime members, the Government wants the system to be replaced with elected members who would be able to serve for 15 years. Currently, the 80% of the members are appointed by the political parties or independent House of Lords Commission. The Government is also proposing the number of Church of England bishops to be cut to 12 from 26.

Opposition to the Reform

The 70-member Tory rebels believe that this is not the right time for such a reform, especially when the country is facing a recession. They said that the bill should undergo a full and unrestricted scrutiny rather than the 10 days allowed by the government for them to study.

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