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In Britain, a parliamentary tit-for-tat

Clegg retaliates after Tories derail Lords overhaul

LONDON — Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg of England said Monday that he will order his Liberal Democrat lawmakers to block legislation wanted by the Conservatives after Tory rebels derailed plans to overhaul the House of Lords.

Clegg said the Conservatives had broken the contract between the coalition partners as he confirmed that the government has abandoned attempts to reform the 700-year-old upper chamber of Parliament until at least 2015. The Liberal Democrats will respond by opposing plans to redraw parliamentary boundaries that may help the Tories at the next general election.

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The move plunges relations between the two parties to the lowest ebb since they came to power two years ago and will raise fresh doubts over whether the alliance can survive until 2015.

‘‘Clearly, I cannot permit a situation where Conservative rebels can pick and choose the parts of the contract they like, while Liberal Democrat MPs are bound to the entire agreement,’’ Clegg said at a press conference Monday.

The House of Lords Reform Bill involved replacing the current 816-member chamber, made up of political appointees, hereditary nobility, and Church of England bishops, with a smaller chamber of mainly elected members serving a single 15- year term. The bill would reduce the size of the chamber by almost a half.

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