Fewer than one-in-four support prime ministers handing out peerages to parachute people into cabinet

Mike Wright, Head of Communications

Posted on the 12th December 2023

Our recent polling,1Savanta interviewed 2,283 UK adults aged 18+ between the 24th and 27th November 2023. Data were weighted to be representative of the UK by age, gender, region and social grade. Savanta is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  covered by the Daily Mirror, has found that fewer than one-in-four individuals think it is acceptable for prime ministers to appoint peers to the House of Lords so they can parachute them straight into cabinet positions.

With just 23 percent supporting this practice, more than double that number (49 percent) expressed their disapproval.

This revelation follows the recent ennoblement of David Cameron by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who then appointed him as Foreign Secretary.

Elections are the most popular method for filling the second chamber

The poll also found that 47 percent of respondents believe individuals in the House of Lords should be elected by the public. In contrast, only 15 percent favoured prime ministers making the selection, and another 15 percent suggested the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) should be responsible for the appointments.

This polling shows the public does not support prime ministers handing out life-long jobs in the House of Lords, so they can parachute people into top cabinet jobs. It is clear the public feels that voters, not politicians, should be the ones to decide who sits in the upper house of Parliament influencing legislation.

Unfinished Business: Routes to an Elected Second Chamber

The Electoral Reform Society has long advocated for the transformation of the House of Lords into an elected chamber. In our new report, Unfinished Business: Routes to an Elected Second Chamber, our Director of Research and Policy Dr Jess Garland outlines various reform options that have been proposed over the decades, and the high level of agreement on what needs to be done.

The report presents proposals for both directly and indirectly elected members, aiming to make the second chamber more representative of the entire country. It also sheds light on the outdated and antiquated nature of the House of Lords, drawing attention to the reserved seats for 92 nearly all-male hereditary peers – a feature unique to the UK and Lesotho, where appointed and hereditary legislators outnumber elected members.

A Second Chamber constituted on a popular basis

The 1911 Parliament Act’s initial intention was to constitute the Lords on a “popular instead of hereditary basis”. Over 100 years later we have an urgent need for decisive action to reshape the upper house of Parliament into a modern, representative body. A smaller, elected chamber would better serve the country, allowing the people to decide who shapes the laws governing their lives.

Do you support an elected House of Lords?

Add your name to our call for an elected Second Chamber

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