Strathclyde Review: Lords should lose veto over secondary legislation

Lord Strathclyde recommends new law to ensure that the red benches can only ask the Commons to “think again” 

By Josh May

17 Dec 2015

The House of Lords should not be able to block secondary legislation passed by MPs, a review for the Government has concluded. 

The Strathclyde review, which was set up after peers blocked George Osborne’s plans to cut tax credits, recommended that a new law be passed to ensure that the red benches can only ask the Commons to “think again”.

The report was looking at the procedures between the two Houses when putting through statutory instruments.

It presented three options: to stop the Lords voting on statutory instruments; to “clarify the restrictions” on how peers should act through a resolution; and the “compromise option”, which Lord Strathclyde recommends, to introduce primary legislation to give the “final say” to the Commons but allow peers to vote against statutory instruments once.  

“I believe that my recommendations strike the right balance between preserving the vital role of the House of Lords in scrutinising legislation, and enabling the elected House of Commons to have a decisive role on statutory instruments,” the Conservative peer said in a statement.

The compromise option preserves the use of the Lords’ “considerable expertise” on secondary legislation but reminds them that “the patience of the Commons is not unlimited”, he added.

“At the heart of my recommendations is a new procedure which does not involve the loss of a proposed regulation on the back of a single Lords defeat but which allows the Commons, having thought again, to vote a second time and insist on its primacy.”

David Cameron said he would respond to the plan in the New Year.

The review also suggested that the Commons Procedure Committee should review when statutory instruments should be deemed financial matters and therefore not subject to a veto by peers.


The row was triggered after £3.4bn of cuts to tax credits were blocked by the House of Lords in October until the Government put in place mitigation measures.

Ministers had argued that, as a financial issue, peers should respect the primacy of the Commons.

However, Labour and the Liberal Democrats pointed out that the option was available to the Chancellor to put the cuts into primary legislation.

Osborne subsequently U-turned on his proposed cuts anyway.


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