May urged to scrap resignation honours to ‘over-sized’ Lords

Posted on the 12th July 2019

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society. Spokespeople are available for interview. For more information, contact Jon Narcross, Communications Officer at jon.narcross@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07794728820.

Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May is being called on to resist making dozens of appointments to the house of Lords as part of the Prime Ministers traditional resignation honours.

May has faced the calls as a new report from the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House showed the slow progress being made to reduce the size of the chamber faced being wiped out by a wave of new appointments [1].

The committee, formed to 2016 to explore methods by which the size of the House of Lords can be reduced called on the Prime Minister to ‘show restraint’ when making resignation appointments calling for a list ‘modest in size’ to prevent any progress made being undone.

The report highlighted that whilst the Lords had reduced from 823 members in June 2017 to 778 now, the chamber had missed the committee’s benchmark for the year with just 26 Lords departing the chamber during the last twelve months (half due to the deaths of sitting members highlighting the bizarre situation of this voluntary approach).

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society said:

“While the Lord Speaker’s committee is right to call for ‘restraint’, it is absurd to be relying on the benevolence of one outgoing PM when the chamber remains unelected, unreformed and appointments at the whim of the next leader.

“Mrs May shouldn’t pack any more Lords into the unelected house. Instead, she should make her legacy restarting much-needed reform talks and backing moves that already have consensus, like Lord Grocott’s bill to phase out hereditaries.

“The failure of any serious legislative attempts to reform the outdated Lords means that the upper House continues to rely largely on the deaths of its members to bring it down to a manageable size – a bizarre situation for a modern democracy to be in.”

ENDS

[1] Third Report of the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House https://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/size-of-house/size-of-house-third-report.pdf

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