Politics: Rebel Peers Threaten to Destroy a Series of Bills

Article excerpt

THE GOVERNMENT is facing a series of defeats over flagship legislation following Tory plans to adopt "guerrilla-type" tactics in the House of Lords.

Lord Strathclyde, the Tory leader in the Lords, is planning to vote the Government down on a series of Bills on important issues such as transport and freedom of information. The party will hold a special meeting for its peers on Wednesday to see how they can use the power even more effectively.

The peers angered the Government last week when they threw out new guidelines on marriage and stable relationships, which were aimed at replacing Section 28 of the Local Government Act.

While the Government has vowed to press ahead with plans to repeal Section 28, which bans the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities, it faces a tough struggle with the House of Lords.

Ministers hope that 19 new life peers, which will be created next week, will swing the balance in the second chamber and enable the measure to get on the statute book.

However, there have been suggestions that Tony Blair is ready to ditch the pledge because the peers may not be in place by the time the Bill goes back to the House of Lords.

Lord Strathclyde said yesterday that his party would continue its opposition to Government legislation. Ministers have already suffered heavy defeats on issues such as ending the automatic right to trial by jury, a free mailshot for mayoral candidates and other aspects of the Local Government Bill. …