Government to appoint 30 new Lords-for-life: ‘A mockery of democracy’, say ERS

Posted on the 22nd June 2020

  • Press release from the Electoral Reform Society, immediate release: 22nd June
  • Contact Josiah on [email protected] / 07717211630. Spokespeople available for comment

The UK’s leading democracy group has responded with anger to reports [1] that the government is planning to appoint 30 new unelected Lords this year – including Conservative donors and party figures.

The ERS say the jobs-for-life for defeated and retired MPs, and party donors, make a mockery of democracy.

30 more peers claiming £323 a day – tax-free – could cost £1.4m extra in expenses per year, the ERS have calculated, if they attend each sitting day [2]. Lords expenses have already surged in the past year [3].

Over 170,000 people have signed the ERS’ petition to scrap and replace the Lords since the General Election [4].

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“At 800 members, the unelected House of Lords is already the most bloated chamber in the developed world. However, the real problem is not just its size but the fact that governments find that – for all the talk of ‘ending cronyism’ – the urge to appoint party donors and loyalists is irresistible.

“Reports that 30 more unelected legislators – many of them former aides – will be put in the Lords for life this year are deeply worrying. Since the election, we’ve already seen MPs stand down or lose their seats and get a life pass to vote on our laws.
It is no wonder the public see the unelected Lords as a private members’ club on the river Thames.

“Voters find this situation intolerable. The repeated suggestions of reforming the second chamber must be implemented. The Conservative manifesto pledges to level up Britain and strengthen democracy. The unelected Lords is simply incompatible with this vision.

“30 more peers claiming £323 a day – tax-free – could cost £1.4m extra in expenses per year. We cannot continue to see governments and peers take the second chamber for a ride.

“Those who vote on our laws, must be accountable to those affected by those laws. It is long past time for an overhaul of this House of Cronies, and hand power to the nations and regions of the UK.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The news of mostly-white appointees comes as Britain marks Windrush Day.

See also: Locked out of the Lords: ERS Briefing on the State of the Second Chamber
https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Locked-out-of-the-Lords-ERS-Briefing-on-the-State-of-the-Second-Chamber-September-2019-.pdf

[1] . https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/johnson-aide-sir-eddie-lister-in-line-for-the-lords-nqvbpcmml

“Sir Eddie Lister, one of Boris Johnson’s most senior advisers, is expected to be given a peerage later this year.

He is thought to be one of 30 nominations, including several Tory donors, on a dissolution honours list that will be given to the Queen in the autumn…

“Donors understood to be on the list include Michael Spencer, a billionaire financier who has served as Tory treasurer, Peter Cruddas, who has given more than £3 million since 2007, and Jon Moynihan, a multimillionaire venture capitalist who chaired the Vote Leave finance committee.

“Dan Hannan, a prominent former Conservative MEP, and Charles Moore, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph, have also been nominated. Several senior politicians will be elevated including two former chancellors, Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond. [Retired MPs] Sir Patrick McLoughlin and Sir David Lidington, both former chancellors of the Duchy of Lancaster, have been put forward, as has the former Labour MP Frank Field, who would sit as a crossbencher.”

Frank Field was defeated at the 2019 election

[2] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/how-do-house-of-lords-expenses-work/

[3]  https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/fresh-calls-for-overhaul-of-house-of-lords-after-new-expenses-revelations/

The total cost of the House of Lords in 2019/20 is put at £258m (which includes restoration/renewal costs) https://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-information-office/2019/House%20of%20Lords%20Business%20Plan%202019-20.pdf

[4] https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-no-more-unelected-peers-scrap-and-replace-the-house-of-lords-now-8a773851-b785-4652-9dc5-79b07a0de8d4?recruiter=1028844552&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition&recruited_by_id=ce1382d0-20eb-11ea-8758-2ba6e1fda309

 

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