Tensions within Britain’s government have seen Prime Minister David Cameron suffer his biggest rebellion in parliament since the coalition came to power.
A total of 91 of his Conservative MPs voted against reforming the House of Lords despite that being a key plank of the party’s deal with the Liberal Democrats.
Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg was nonetheless delighted to see the bill passed to its next stage with a majority of 338. Cameron, too, is sticking to his plans for a mainly elected upper chamber.
“It is time we reformed the House of Lords. It has got up to 900 people. There are still people there who are there because their ancestors were given a peerage decades ago. It is ripe for reform. It does need to take place,” he told reporters ahead of the vote, at a joint news conference with visiting French President François Hollande.
The bill however has no timetable. A vote on that was withdrawn, with the government facing near-certain defeat from an alliance of Tory rebels and Labour MPs. Opposition Labour backs Lords reform but wants more time to debate the issue.