PM accused of hypocrisy for saying Lords size ‘needs addressing’…after appointing 36 peers

Posted on the 3rd August 2020

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society, for immediate release Monday 3rd August 2020. Contact Josiah on 07717211630 / [email protected] for more comment or to arrange an interview

Commenting on the PM’s spokesman saying the size of the House of Lords ‘needs addressing’ [1] – after No 10 appointed 36 new peers – Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the ERS, said:

“You cannot claim to want to address the size of the Lords while at the same time packing it full of party loyalists, donors and ex-MPs. If the PM is serious about getting grips with the size of the bloated chamber, he must convene cross-party talks to finally overhaul the unelected house and give voters the slimmed down, fairly-elected revising chamber they deserve.

“Prime Ministers have an unabashed sense of entitlement when it comes to stuffing the Lords with their allies. Without action, the latest comments from No 10 just look like hypocrisy, as anger over these cronyistic appointments continues to grow.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The 36 new peers tip the number of peers over the 800 mark, at a likely cost of £1.1m a year based on the average expenses claim, the ERS says. Peers can usually claim £323 a day tax-free – for the rest of their lives – for signing into the Lords.

Democracy campaigners believe the new appointments will make a ‘mockery’ of supposed efforts in the chamber to keep numbers down.

Nearly 200,000 people have signed a petition [2] calling for the House of Lords to be scrapped and replaced. The petition which was started at the beginning of the year, has seen a surge in recent days.

It comes as ERS research reveals that London and the South East are ‘dramatically over-represented’ in the second house, a finding exacerbated by the latest spate of appointments [3].

The ERS want to see a far smaller, PR-elected Senate of the Nations and Regions to replace the Lords.

[1] https://www.politicshome.com/news/article/number-10-says-size-of-the-lords-needs-addressing-after-nominating-36-more-people-for-peerages

[2] https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-no-more-unelected-peers-scrap-and-replace-the-house-of-lords-now-8a773851-b785-4652-9dc5-79b07a0de8d4

[3] New ERS research reveals the London-dominated nature of the second chamber:

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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