Super-sized House of Lords needs to cut its intake, say democracy advocates

By agency reporter
July 29, 2020

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has warned that plans to appoint dozens of new Lords make a mockery of the chamber’s supposed plans to slim down. 

The Lords’ Speaker, Lord Fowler, has written to all peers warning against plans to appoint up to dozens of new peers. It reveals that mooted plans to pack the chamber with more appointees will reverse any recent reduction in numbers. The ERS has obtained a copy of the letter.  

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the ERS, said: “There has been almost no progress on reducing the size of the Lords this century. From around 700 members after many hereditaries were scrapped, we’re now at nearly 800 unelected peers.

“Despite recent claims from peers that they’d sort their size out, the Lords remains the largest revising chamber in the world, with 800 appointees who continue to vote on our laws with no accountability. This super-sized House needs to cut its crony-intake drastically.

“Instead, the PM looks set on appointing dozens more friends to the bloated house. For all the Lords’ protests, there’s nothing they can do about it – because this so-called scrutiny chamber is at the whim of the Prime Minister. That is a recipe for bad decision-making and a supine legislature.

“It also looks increasingly like an impediment to national security. The Intelligence and Security Committee’s report on possible Russian interference in the UK showed that the chamber is a loophole-ridden, scrutiny-free zone when it comes to their own dealings. It is long past time for an overhaul: a slimmed-down, fairly-elected revising chamber worthy of the Mother of Parliaments. Let’s shed some light in those dark corridors of power.”

Peers have recently been speaking in huge numbers, reportedly to claim their virtual Parliament expenses of £160 a day (tax-free). The ERS has previously branded the Lords a "rolling expenses scandal".

* Electoral Reform Society https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

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