It’s official: the House of Lords is completely bust

Electoral Reform Society
Author:
Electoral Reform Society

Posted on the 16th August 2015

Today, we can reveal that the House of Lords is officially, well and truly bust.

We’re pleased to launch our new report on our unelected upper chamber: ‘House of Lords: Fact vs Fiction’ – where we shatter the myths on Britain’s second House.

It’s the first major piece of research on the House of Lords since the General Election. And the findings are quite shocking.

‘Fact vs Fiction’ shows conclusively that the House of Lords is growing out of control, with the government set on appointing hundreds more Peers at a cost of millions.

We’ve also shown that far from being a bastion of independence, non-partisan Crossbench Peers turn up far less frequently than party-political Peers. And it’s those Peers who vote as a bloc, with Labour voting against the last coalition government, Conservative Peers voting against the last Labour government nearly all of the time.

On top of that, we have found that over a third of Lords previously worked in politics – compared to less than 1% of the British public. This is not a chamber of experts – it’s a chamber of professional politicians. Our House of Lords looks nothing like the public whose decisions it impacts – almost half live in London or the South East, while there are just two Peers under the age of 40. This is a shockingly out of date and unrepresentative institution.

The Prime Minister said he ‘regrets’ not reforming the second House in the last Parliament. It’s time for him to act – and finally fix our broken upper chamber.

What we’ve found:

  • The cost of the Lords – In the 2010-2015 parliament, £360,000 was claimed by Peers in years they failed to vote once. In the last Parliamentary session alone, over £100,000 was claimed by Peers who did not vote at all. At the same time, Cameron’s plans for an additional 50 Peers will cost at least £1.3m per year.
  • Independence – In the 2014-15 session nearly half (45%) of all Crossbenchers participated in 10 or fewer votes – compared to an average of just 8% of party political Peers, while a quarter of appointments to the House of Lords between 1997 and 2015 were former MPs.
  • Professional politicians – Over a third of Lords (34%) previously worked in politics. Just 1% come from manual backgrounds.
  • A supersized House – to rebalance the upper chamber strictly in line with the 2015 General Election results would require the appointment of an additional 723 members.
  • Out of date – 44% of Lords list their main addresses in London and the South East, while 54% are 70 or older.

Today we’ve taken another step forward in calling the House of Lords out for what it is – an oversized, undemocratic, unrepresentative and archaic institution urgently in need of reform.

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