Tories will not be parachuted into the House of Lords to stop Labour and Lib Dem peers dishing out further blows to the Government, the man leading the review of the upper house has said.
Lord Strathclyde, the Tory peer appointed yesterday to lead a "snap" review, said he would not be exacting “revenge” on the Lords after they blocked George Osborne's plans to slash tax credits.
But he told Radio 4's World at One that they had acted “deplorably” by blocking the Government on a policy relating to its spending plans, which critics say breaks long-standing convention.
Insiders had told The Huffington Post UK last week that the Lords would face a huge backlash should they vote to block the tax credits cuts, as they did.
The Government does not have a majority in the House of Lords, but appointing more Tory peers would tip the balance.
TAX CREDITS: THE IMPACT
Tax credits are welfare payments to families raising children and working people on low incomes.
More than three million families will lose an average of £1,300 a year from April
The cuts will deliver £4.4bn of the Chancellor’s planned welfare cuts by reducing the earnings level at which tax credits start to be withdrawn from £6,420 to £3,850.
The Government says eight out of 10 would be "better off" overall from a package which also includes increases in the minimum wage for over-25s, rises in the income tax threshold and extended free childcare.
Lord Strathclyde suggested the Parliament Act could be amended to ensure the primacy of the House of Commons, but he ruled an idea floated to appoint more Tory peers.
He said: “At its most extreme that is one possible solution to try and amend the Parliament Acts. It’s one of the options that are open to the Government and no doubt it will be one of the issues that I’ll examine."
He went on: “That is not one that I would recommend (appointing more Tory peers). I think that that would be the wrong thing to do, Mr Blair created probably more peers than anybody in modern history, but it’s the wrong thing to do to deal with this particular problem."
But he added: “I think the House of Lords behaved wrongly, deplorably and unnecessarily. Again we have developed very good ways of the unelected House protesting against what the House of Commons does but backing down in the end. On Monday, gleefully and capriciously, the House of Lords voted it down so as to try and engineer this semi-crisis.”
READ ALSO ON TAX CREDITS