POLITICS

Nick Clegg Says 'Crooked And Lazy' Peers To Be Thrown Out Of Lords

04/06/2013 12:20 BST | Updated 04/06/2013 12:22 BST
PA
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg speaks to MPs during the emergency debate in the House of Commons in central London today on the proposals for reforming press regulation.

Nick Clegg has said he will move to kick "crooks" out of the House of Lords in the wake of the latest lobbying scandal.

Under the current rules peers are able to retain their seat even if they are convicted of a crime or never actually bother to turn up.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning, the deputy prime minister said proposals to throw lazy or criminal peers out of the Lords could be included in a forthcoming Recall of MPs Bill.

"There's no need for a stand alone bill on House of Lords reform," he said. "There are a few very specific measures that we could incorporate into a wider Bill if that arises."

"There are specific housekeeping measures in the House of Lords - people who’ve committed crimes who shouldn’t be there, people who’ve never attended who shouldn’t be there, voluntary retirement – if we can sweep that up," he said.

The Lib Dem leader had previously been opposed to incremental reforms to the House of Lords as he feared it would kill the momentum for the full democratisation of the House. However in the wake of allegations that three peers accepted cash for questions Clegg appears to have conceded that his must drop this opposition.

The Labour Party has suspended Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate and Lord Cunningham over the accusations and Ulster Unionst peer Lord Laird has also lost his party whip following similar claims.

The Leader of the Lords, Lord Hill, has said that the Lords Commissioner for Standards, is to investigate three peers. All three deny any wrongdoing.

Allegations that Patrick Mercer was also willing to ask questions in the Commons in exchange for money from lobbyists has reignited demands for voters to be able to sack MPs mid-term - the right to recall.

The government has also announced plans to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists before the end of the summer.

The lobbying Bill, to be published before the House of Commons rises for its summer break on July 18, sparked immediate political controversy after it was revealed that it will also include measures which could make it harder for unions to take strike action or support candidates in election campaigns.

Labour denounced the package as a "shabby and panicked" response to the recent rash of negative headlines while the TUC accused the Government of "cynically trying to exploit a political sleaze scandal to crack down on unions".