PM 'aims to create 60 new Tory peers' to stop more defeats

Rumours rife that David Cameron plans to pack the Lords with new Tories in a bid to 'stop the rot'

Column LAST UPDATED AT 09:21 ON Tue 24 Jan 2012

CROSSBENCH peers who joined the bishops' revolt to defeat the Government on the £26,000 cap on welfare benefits last night are furious at rumours that David Cameron will wreak his revenge by creating more than 60 new Tory peers to boost Conservative strength in the House of Lords.

Cameron's spinners have had a good morning turning the defeat into a victory, telling the likes of Nick Robinson, the BBC political editor, that it leaves Ed Miliband and Labour, who supported the bishops, out of touch with public opinion.

This looks particularly telling after the latest Guardian/ICM poll showing Cameron has widened the Tory lead over Ed's Labour to a whopping five points. In the middle of a recession and in mid-term, this can only spell electoral doom for Labour and it is no comfort that Labour have a big lead over the Tories in the same poll among blue collar C2s and voters in the North. Labour have to break out of their roots to win.

Cameron can have more fun at Ed's expense when the welfare bill defeat is overturned in the Commons in the next few days.

But rumours were rife last night in the peers' guest bar that Cameron is worried about more defeats in the Lords. "We hear he is going to create 60 more peers," said one crossbencher over their gin and tonic. "He's mad."

Cameron claims Labour created so many Labour peers during the Blair/Brown years that he cannot command a majority for Government business in the Lords.

The Coalition came into power with a commitment - pending a directly elected Lords - to reflect the election result in the Lords. A report by crossbench peers called House Full claimed this would require nearly 300 more mainly Tory peers, pushing the total in the Upper House to 1,000 or more. They complain the House cannot cope with the numbers.

And with more controversial measures running into trouble - like the hated NHS reforms - Cameron wants to stop the rot among the peers. That's democracy. Not. ·