Lords veto powers threat

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COUNCIL leader Lord Smith has accused the government of “arrogance” over plans to cutback the veto power of the House of Lords.

Lord Smith was one of 289 peers who blocked proposed changes to the tax credit system in a controversial move earlier this year.

It prompted criticism from ministers that the chamber had defied convention by interfering on financial related affairs.

As part of new proposals offered from a review panel commissioned by David Cameron, peers will only have the power to send regulations back to the House of Commons. And they will only be able to take this step once. The move would effectively strip the upper chamber of veto powers.

Lord Smith told the Evening Post: “This reaction shows the inability of David Cameron and his government to take criticism and review their policies.

“The Lords made the government rethink its unfair attack on working families (in October).

“To curb Lords’ power as a reaction shows arrogance and unwillingness to listen to Parliament.”

The review by Tory grandee Lord Strathclyde recommended that a new law should be passed which would ensure that the Commons had the “final say” over secondary legislation. Lord Strathclyde said: “In my review, I have looked carefully at the history and current practice of the House of Lords as it regards secondary legislation and financial matters and I have spoken to a wide range of parliamentarians.

“I believe that my recommendations strike the right balance between preserving the vital role of the House of Lords in scrutinising legislation, and enabling the elected House of Commons to have a decisive role on statutory instruments.”

Mr Cameron is expected to respond to the report’s recommendations early in the new year.