The government has “fashioned a pretend constitutional crisis” out of the House of Lords’ decision to delay Conservative plans to cut £4.4bn from tax credits, the shadow leader of the House of Commons, Chris Bryant, has said.
Speaking during an urgent debate in parliament on a recently announced review of the relationship between the Commons and the Lords, Bryant said: “It’s clear that the government intends to give the House of Lords a kicking, but it should remember – as it fashions this pretend constitutional crisis – that the vast majority of people in this country applauded the Lords on Monday because the [tax credits cuts were] not in the government’s manifesto.”
The government launched a “rapid review” led by Lord Strathclyde of how MPs can be given the “decisive role” over key financial decisions on Tuesday, following the government’s Lords defeat the previous day over plans to cut tax credits. Strathclyde said on Wednesday the Lords had acted “wrongly, deplorably and unnecessarily”.
Bryant asked Grayling in the Commons: “Does the leader see no irony at all in getting the House of Lords to review the financial privilege of the House of Commons and for that matter [a review by a] hereditary peer?”
He pointed to an instance in 1999 where a Conservative-led Lords voted down two statutory instruments proposed by the then Labour government, a move Strathclyde defended at the time, describing the convention that prevented peers from doing so as “dead”.
Chris Bryant went on to ask whether Strathclyde was a hypocrite or a convert – but Speaker John Bercow ordered him to withdraw the insulting implication.
He said he would presume Strathclyde was a convert. The rest of us may draw our own conclusions.
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