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Cable Denies Liberal Democrats Making Threats Over Lords Bill

U.K. Business Secretary Vince Cable denied that his Liberal Democrat party is threatening its Conservative coalition partner as tensions mount over plans to overhaul the House of Lords.

A former aide to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg last week suggested the party may oppose parliamentary boundary changes that would benefit the Conservatives if the Tories block the introduction of elections to the House of Lords, a priority for the smaller party.

A bill to reform Parliament’s upper chamber, currently largely made up of political appointees, faces its first major obstacle in a House of Commons vote this week when lawmakers in the lower House of Commons vote on a “program motion” to restrict the amount of time that can be spent debating it. Many Tories are preparing to join the opposition Labour Party in voting against the motion, Conservative lawmaker, Andrew Griffiths, said last month.

“We’re not talking about walking away from the coalition - - that isn’t an issue,” Cable told BBC television’s “Andrew Marr Show” today. “But there is absolutely no reason why this vote should be lost. All three parties agree on House of Lords reform. They all agree that we should have an elected House of Lords, that the present system is completely unsustainable.”

The bill, introduced by Clegg on June 27, would cut the size of the House of Lords by almost a half. As many as 78 percent of its members would be elected and the remainder appointed, serving single 15-year terms. The appointed members currently hold seats for life.

The current 816-member chamber, made up of 675 appointees and 92 members of the nobility, as well as senior judges and Church of England bishops, would be replaced with 360 members elected on a proportional-representation system, 90 appointees, 12 bishops and others appointed by a prime minister to serve as a government minister.

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