Monday 26 October 2015

Lords delay tax credit cuts, Osborne and Cameron want to use it as an excuse to remove opposition

The House of Lords have voted for amendments to George Osborne's proposed £4bn cuts to tax credits which will delay their implementation whilst the impact of the cuts is independently assessed.

David Cameron and George Osborne both say that the unelected House of Lords defying the elected House of Commons is a constitutional anomaly that needs addressing and are calling for a "rapid review" on the constitution of the House of Lords.

This so-called constitutional anomaly was addressed in 1911 with the passing of the Parliament Act which allows the House of Commons to overrule the House of Lords if they reject a Bill three times. It was introduced after Lloyd George's budget was blocked by the Lords despite there being a convention that money bills go through on the nod.

To say that this is the first time in a 100 years that the Lords have defied the government - as Osborne and co are saying - is incorrect. The Parliament Act has been used to overrule the Lords seven times since 1911, the most recent occasion being the passing of the Hunting Act in 2004.

Tax credit cuts weren't a manifesto pledge - something that the Lords don't oppose by convention because it is considered that the electorate have given their approval to the bill in the ballot box. In fact the Tories promised not to cut tax credits so the Lords haven't broken any convention and have, in fact, done exactly what they are there to do which is to scrutinise proposed legislation and if they think it's wrong, to either fix it or throw it out.

It was most amusing to hear George Osborne complaining about "unelected Labour and Liberal Lords" defying the elected House of Commons. Giving the Lib Dems another 11 peers this year despite them being wiped out at the ballot box isn't looking so clever now is it George?