Lords move to York is ‘mere virtue signalling’ while London-dominated chamber remains unreformed – ERS

Posted on the 16th July 2020

Commenting on fresh reports that the House of Lords could be moved to York [1], Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said:

“Moving the House of Lords to York is little more than virtue signalling if nothing is done to change its warped composition. Nearly half of Peers live in London and the South East – compared to just 27% of the UK public. This will remain a Londoner-dominated chamber, whether it’s in York or Westminster, because it is a private members’ club for party donors and loyalists. Instead of meaningless tinkering, voters want real reform.

“Rather than moving the deckchairs, the government must get on with overhauling this unelected house. Ministers cannot be serious about ‘levelling up’ without ensuring that the second chamber genuinely represents the nations and regions of the UK.

“It’s time for real democracy in this country – ending the scandal of unelected privilege, and giving voters everywhere a real voice.”

Over half (55%) of peers reside in London, the South East and the East of England, almost 20 percentage points higher than the population share for these regions (36%). London and the South East are overrepresented by 11 and 7 percentage points respectively [2].

The North West, West Midlands and East Midlands are particularly underrepresented, having around 5–6% fewer peers than their population share.

Just 16 percent of the public believe politics is working well in the UK – and only 2 percent feel they have a significant influence over decision-making, according to ‘damning’ BMG polling for the ERS in December [3].

Nearly 200,000 people have signed the ERS’ petition calling for the House of Lords to be scrapped and replaced with a fairly-elected second chamber [4].


Notes to Editors

[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/house-of-commons-could-move-to-york-says-boris-johnson-bgq7qzd0v

[2] 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

September 2019 – Lords Representation by Region

Place of residence Number of peers residing in each area Proportion of peers residing in an area (as % of all peers for which place of residence is available) Percentage of the UK adult population residing in an area Difference between peers and UK population in each area
London 130 24.20% 13.10% 11.10%
South East 111 20.70% 13.70% 7%
East of England 53 9.90% 9.30% 0.60%
South West 49 9.10% 8.60% 0.60%
Scotland 48 8.90% 8.40% 0.50%
Yorkshire and the Humber 32 6.00% 8.20% -2.30%
North West 26 4.80% 11% -6.10%
West Midlands 21 3.90% 8.80% -4.90%
Wales 20 3.70% 4.80% -1.10%
North East 17 3.20% 4.10% -0.90%
East Midlands 14 2.60% 7.30% -4.70%
Northern Ireland 12 2.20% 2.80% -0.50%
Overseas 4 0.70% N/A N/A

As of September 2019, of the 799 peers who submitted an expense form for the period 1–31 March 2019 (the latest for which data is available), place of residence is known for 537 peers, with the remaining 262 peers failing to providing location or even a region where they are based.

[3] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/bmg-poll-just-one-in-six-people-believe-westminster-is-working-well/

[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


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