New research reveals London-dominance of House of Lords amid fresh batch of unelected peers

Posted on the 3rd August 2020

PM cannot claim to ‘level up’ the regions without over-hauling the unelected chamber – ERS. (Embargoed research)

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society. Contact Josiah on 07717211630 / [email protected] for more comment or to arrange an interview

The Electoral Reform Society has slammed the House of Lords as a ‘Westminster private member’s club’ as research by the Society revealed that nearly a quarter of peers are based in London [1], compared to just 13% of the UK public. 

ERS analysis of the latest Lords data – which comes a 36 news peers are being crammed into the second chamber [2] – shows that a majority of peers (55%) for which regional data is available reside in only three regions (London, South East and East of England). It is almost 20 percentage points higher than the population share for these regions (36%).

The North West and East and West Midlands are the most underrepresented regions in the House of Lords when compared with their population share (see table at bottom of PR).

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

“The unelected House of Lords is looking increasingly like a Westminster private member’s club, with voices outside of London and the South East locked out. This totally undermines the government’s stated intention to ‘level up’ the regions, when we have a chamber that is skewed towards one patch of England.

“It’s no surprise that the chamber is unrepresentative when the chamber is totally unelected: this is a home for Prime Ministers’ pals, SpAds and donors. This is a major inequity in the heart of our politics, and means the expertise and skills of huge parts of the UK go ignored. It’s time for a fairly-elected revising chamber that can stand up for the nations and regions of the UK.

“It’s no good simply packing the chamber with more unelected appointees. At 800 members this bloated house needs root-and-branch reform to put the public first at last.”

Democracy campaigners – and even the Lord Speaker – believe the new appointments will make a mockery of supposed efforts in the chamber to keep numbers down. The total number of peers has now tipped over 800.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

ERS comment on the new peerages here: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/new-lords-appointments-are-a-nail-in-the-coffin-for-claims-of-the-chambers-independence/

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/queen-confers-peerages-31-july-2020

[2] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/the-already-super-sized-house-of-lords-is-about-to-get-bigger/

Location 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 118 23.7% 13.1% 10.6%
South East 100 20.1% 13.7% 6.4%
East of England 58 11.6% 9.3% 2.3%
South West 45 9.0% 8.6% 0.4%
Scotland 43 8.6% 8.4% 0.2%
Yorkshire & Humber 31 6.2% 8.2% -2.0%
North West 22 4.4% 11.0% -6.6%
Wales 19 3.8% 4.8% -1.0%
North East 16 3.2% 4.1% -0.9%
West Midlands 16 3.2% 8.8% -5.6%
East Midlands 15 3.0% 7.3% -4.3%
Northern Ireland 11 2.2% 2.8% -0.6%
Overseas 4 0.8% N/A N/A

Based on the latest expense forms, which covers the period 1-29 February, we have data on place of residence for 498 peers. (Population data is based on the latest ONS estimate of January 2019)

The eight peers for which we have location data, but who are currently on leave of absence and thus ineligible to sit in the Lords, all have London as their place of residence.

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