Elect the House of Lords
From stories of peers leaving taxis running to claim their expenses to failing to turn up for years at a time, the Lords makes a mockery of our democracy.
Sign our petition for an elected House of Lords
For far too many of its members, the second chamber of our parliament is a cosy club for the privileged few.
But this is not just another private members’ club – it is one which has real powers over the law of the land.
We’re basically alone in Europe for having a fully-unelected revising chamber. And no other country in the democratic world has a second chamber bigger than ours. Globally, only Communist China has a bigger body, and they merely meet to rubberstamp government policies. France manages on 348 members. Spain with 257. India, with over a billion people, has just 245 and Japan 242.
It’s time to abolish the bloated House of Lords and create a new chamber to revise our legislation – one where the public picks the members, and can hold them accountable.
How much does the House of Lords cost?
It seems the only time the public is allowed into the House of Lords is to pay the bill.
The House of Lords isn’t just an affront to voters, it’s an unacceptable burden on the public purse.
Peers are able to claim £305 a day tax-free each day they attend, plus some travel costs. Between February 2014 to January 2015, £21 million was spent on Lords allowances and expenses, with the average Peer receiving £25,826.
A smaller, fully-elected and full-time House of Lords would be better for tax-payers.
An elected, territorial second chamber could serve as a forum in which the UK’s constituent parts work together in the 21st century, supplementing our current mechanisms for cross-border working.
Experts or professional politicians?
In the House of Lords, Peers are more likely to have run a palace than have helped build one.
In the current House of Lords, 27% of Peers were politicians before entering the Lords – with the majority being former MPs. A further seven percent of Peers are former political staff or held senior positions in political parties.
Election is no barrier to expertise – and at the moment we have the worst of both worlds: part-time experts who rarely attend, and full-time peers who only have experience in Parliament.
Super-sized second chamber
Only China’s rubber stamping legislature, the National People’s Congress is larger than the Lords.
With around 800 members, the House of Lords is the second largest chamber in the world, and with fresh appointments after each change of government, it can only get larger.
A fully elected second chamber would have a fixed membership, with the public deciding who has the right to stay.
Party over principle? Independence in the Lords
The only legislature where losing an election helps you get a seat.
As independent Crossbench peers have to fit their time in the House of Lords around busy careers, the business of the house is often left to peers who are former politicians. 25% of Lords appointments since 1997 are former MPs who lost elections or resigned. These peers owe their position purely to patronage, with the result that 71% of the House of Lords votes on party lines.
A proportional chamber elected by a system such as the Single Transferable Vote would mean Peers would be held accountable by their constituents, not party chiefs.
Unrepresentative and out of date
Second House or Retirement Home?
With the power to appoint anyone, the House of Lords could mirror the social make up of society, but this is simply not happening.
Only 29 peers are under 50, and while Lords were recently been given the ability to retire, they can sit in the Lords for the rest of their life. Female representation in the Lords has only recently reached 24% (199). London and the South-East are massively over-represented; Peers fail to represent the whole country.
A fully-elected house with real diversity of party candidates would make for better scrutiny and law-making.
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The bloated House of Lords urgently needs reform
None of the 'Lords' sitting in the House have been elected by the public – they are there because of the family they were are born into or the politicians they pleased. Please sign our petition calling for an elected second chamber.
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More information about Elect the House of Lords
Westminster Beyond Brexit: Ending the Politics of Division
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An elected second chamber and deliberative democratic processes can ensure that citizens can make decisions that have real impact.
The High Cost of Small Change
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This report lays out the state of Britain’s second chamber today. It’s now up to politicians to meet the challenge, before trust in our democracy falls even further.
Labour Party Justice and Home Affairs policy commission submission
Westminster Beyond Brexit Briefing