Lords slammed over decision to hold proceedings in private – while lobbying for expenses

Posted on the 21st April 2020

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, Tuesday 21st April 2020.
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Democracy campaigners have challenged the decision to hold ‘virtual’ House of Lords sittings in private. 

The Lords will not be screening proceedings live until May 5th, according to the House’s official guidance to members [2].

The unelected chamber will instead only publish transcripts on Hansard hours after debates have taken place – despite the Commons continuing to broadcast its sessions live.

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

“It is jarring to see Lords lobbying to receive their full £323-a-day expenses [2] – without voters being able to see what they’re doing with it. This will strike most people as tone-deaf when millions of workers have had to make sacrifices during this crisis.

“Voters across the world expect to see the legislators they are paying: it’s a core part of democratic transparency. This seems to be another sign of the Lords failing to meet the democratic standards voters expect.

“The Commons has shown that broadcasting the mostly-virtual hearings is possible from Day 1. It’s vital for democracy not to simply be done, but be seen to be done. Unfortunately, any kind of democracy is lacking in Britain’s out-dated second chamber. The Lords authorities must get to grips with this rapidly.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/191/procedure-committee-lords/news/145918/procedure-committee-issues-guidance-on-virtual-proceedings/

[2] The Lords Speaker told Radio 4 this morning that Lords will be deciding on their expenses on Monday.

Comment on expenses from Darren Hughes here: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1270599/Coronavirus-Covid-19-House-of-Lords-money-expenses-salary-lockdown

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