Moving Lords to the North without real reform is mere ‘tokenistic tinkering’

Posted on the 20th January 2020

  • Statement for immediate release, Electoral Reform Society, 20th January 2020. Contact [email protected] / 07717211630 for interview bids and further information.

Campaigners have warned the unelected House of Lords needs more than simply ‘reshuffling to York or Birmingham’, amid reports [1] that the government are considering options for Lords reform.

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Ministers are right to look at the rotten state of the unelected House of Lords. But they must do more than simply reshuffling an unreformed travesty to York or Birmingham.

“Just moving this private members’ club without changing its composition is tokenistic tinkering.  The second chamber will remain dominated by party donors and defeated MPs from London and the South East, at the whim of Westminster Prime Ministers.

“Rather than just moving ermine-clad cronies somewhere else, it’s time for real democracy in this country – ending the scandal of unelected privilege, and giving voters a real voice.

“This can be an inspiring step forward for our constitution, rebalancing power with a smaller, proportionally-elected senate for all the nations and regions of the UK. If the government is committed to a real union, we must have a Parliament that truly reflects that.

“We have a crisis of trust in democracy, but there are solutions on Johnson’s desk [2]. In 2020, it’s finally time to mend the sinking ship of politics – not just reshuffle the deckchairs.”

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].

ENDS

Notes to Editors

45% of Peers live in London and the South East, compared to just 27% of the UK public 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/article/boris-johnson-sends-the-house-of-lords-up-north-r803s6pfx

https://twitter.com/RidgeOnSunday/status/1218817587427119104?s=19

[2] Including the Act of Union Bill https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lords-may-become-house-of-regions-63kxl2xsq and Baroness Benett’s Lords reform Bill https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-20/houseoflordselectionsandreform.html

[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/

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