Second chamber 'turning into House of Lobbyists’

By agency reporter
January 3, 2018

The Electoral Reform Society is calling for an urgent review of House of Lords protocol, after an investigation by The Times found that peers who have retired can give guests access to bars and restaurants in the chamber for the rest of their lives – raising significant concerns about underhand lobbying.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the Electoral Reform Society, said, At a time when we need to be reducing the financial burden of the unelected House of Lords, granting all former peers access to its subsidised bars and restaurants is massively self-defeating. Overwhelming Lords resources with hundreds of ex-members confirms the image many voters have of the second chamber – a private members’ club.

“However, this decision also poses significant risks for democracy in what is an already undemocratic House.

“The authorities are granting membership in all-but-name to those who are meant to have quit. These ex-members will have extensive access to ministers and influencers, meaning we risk seeing the emergence of a lobbyist-dominated Lords – as if the situation wasn’t already bad enough.

“That this decision appears to have been made without debate is extremely concerning. We accidentally create a ‘shadow’ upper house, where voters are shut out, but lobbyists get unparalleled access to decision-makers.

“The Palace of Westminster should not be a retirement home or a private members club – it should act as the Mother of all Parliaments it claims to be.

“We urge those peers who do support reform to raise this issue in the chamber. It is a matter of democratic urgency that the Lords’ authorities must review this previously unknown decision.”

The Times found that ex-peers can entertain up to six guests at a time for food and wine, in a perk that enables them to continue to mingle with ministers. The Electoral Reform Society says this gives them a gilded opportunity to influence policies and new laws, as well as pick up inside information about proposed reforms.

* Electoral Reform Society


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