New peerages raise question of constraining prime ministerial appointments to Lords

By staff writers
August 2, 2020

A list of Boris Johnson's new appointments to the House of Lords was published on 31 July 2020. There are 36 names on the list, including the Prime MInister's brother Jo Johnson, the Russian-born newspaper proprietor Evgeny Lebedev, Conservative donors Michael Spencer, Peter Cruddas and Jon Moynihan, and retired cricketer Ian Botham as well as former MPs. There was no peerage for the former Commons Speaker, John Bercow.

The appointments have caused considerable controversy. The Lord Speaker Lord Fowler, said: “This list of new peers marks a lost opportunity to reduce numbers in the House of Lords. The result will be that the house will soon be nearly 830 strong – almost 200 greater than the House of Commons. That is a massive policy U-turn. It was only two years ago that the then prime minister, Mrs May, pledged herself to a policy of restraint in the number of new appointments. It was the first time that any prime minister had made such a pledge. It is also a vast pity that the list has been announced within the first few days of the summer recess when neither house is sitting, and the government cannot be challenged in Parliament.”

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: “Based on the average claim of a peer, the 36 new peers are likely to cost around £1.1 million a year in expenses from the taxpayer. By appointing a host of ex-MPs, party loyalists and his own brother, the PM is inviting total derision. That he can get away with it shows what a private member’s club this house is. The Lords was already the largest second chamber in the world. There are now over 800 unelected peers, voting on our laws for life.

“Is packing the Lords with party loyalists really a priority, as a pandemic rages across the world? This move is an absolute insult to voters. This is making a mockery of democracy .Today marks a nail in the coffin for the idea that the Lords is some kind of independent chamber of experts. It is a house of cronies and party loyalists – we need to see it scrapped and replaced with a fair-elected chamber that’s fit for a democracy."

* Electoral Reform Society

* [Ekk/4]

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