It’s time to scrap the tradition of resignation honours

Jon Narcross, former Communications Officer

Posted on the 29th July 2022

Boris Johnson cannot be allowed to use his final days in power to pack the Lords with his supporters and allies.

Boris Johnson’s days in Downing Street are numbered but that hasn’t stopped him planning on final move that will leave a lasting mark on our politics – appointing a bumper batch of new peerages.

In a letter published in The Times, ERS Chief Executive, Darren Hughes called out the risk of Boris Johnson being given a free hand to pack the Lords with his political allies and backers just days before he’s dragged out of Downing Street.

Johnson has reportedly committed to leaving all future policy decisions to the next leader and ruled out new spending commitments in his final days in office, yet no such restraint looks set to be shown on peerages and honours.

Why should our lame duck Prime Minister be able to pack the already bloated Lords with his political cronies – all of whom will have a lifetime appointment to make our laws?

It’s time to end this convention of resignation honours and scrap the unelected Lords entirely. Only a fully democratic second chamber, elected by the people, can provide the accountability we need when it comes to who makes our laws.

You can see the full letter below:

Sir, Your leader (The Times view on a prime ministerial appointment: Wrong ’Un, 11 July) rightly warns the public about the outgoing prime minister’s inevitable desire to use his remaining time in office to dispense patronage. With the intrigue of the leadership contest taking up a lot of political oxygen he must not be allowed to get away with such plans in the hope the rest of us are distracted.

Firstly, to state the obvious with which many citizens thoroughly agree: these lifetime appointments to the House of Lords – based only on political connection – have long been out of control. For Mr Johnson to think he can add to it feels like evidence of how preposterous our times have become. It is very unusual for an upper house to have more members than the main chamber. Yet, at over 800 peers already only the People’s Republic of China has more members than our second chamber. We simply do not need any more. 

While it may have become a convention for outgoing prime ministers to appoint ever more members to the House of Lords, it is not a compulsory act. Everybody knows there is a real danger of Mr Johnson will misuse this privilege. He has lost the right to have his suggestions considered and it is long past time that everybody continues to indulge the outgoing prime minister. His previous appointments to this chamber and the nature of his hasty departure from his high office speak volumes to this point.

The appointments commission should carefully consider any names sent by the current occupant of No 10 and the candidates for the Conservative leadership should commit to not just “nodding through” the endless demands of Mr Johnson to deliver for his friends. Going along with what he has previously wanted has been politically damaging for the Tories and consequential for the country. Refusing his final wish list could be a first step in healing from the Johnson era.


Add your name to our call for no new lords until we have a fully elected second chamber

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