New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The spectacle of Cabinet Ministers voting against a major Government Bill without resigning their positions will surely bring collective Cabinet responsibility into total disrepute. Given that the Deputy Prime Minister believes in making progress by inches, will he not support a single, simple, one-line Bill to allow the exclusion from the Upper House of people who have been convicted of serious criminal offences?

[The Deputy Prime Minister: As I said before, that barely scratches the surface of the issues that exist in the House of Lords. On the first point, the failure of collective responsibility is a political one in which one party in the coalition Government has not honoured the commitments set out in the coalition agreement to proceed with reform of the House of Lords. Let me be clear – [Interruption.] If I can make myself heard, let me be clear: I have asked Liberal Democrat Members countless times to vote for things to which they strongly object, because they were in the coalition agreement. The hon. Gentleman cannot reasonably ask me to ask Liberal Democrat MPs to continue as if nothing has happened, when the other side of the coalition chooses not to do so on an issue as important as reform of the House of Lords. That is coalition politics, and it will continue until one party – the hon. Gentleman's party or another – wins an outright majority. That did not happen in the previous election; that is why we have a coalition, and the country is better for it.]