Reformers challenge PM on ‘hypocrisy’ over Lords size

Posted on the 20th February 2018

Prime Minister “missing the point” on size of second chamber, say campaigners.

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 20th February 2018.
  • Chief Executive Darren Hughes is available for interview. For more information, contact mediaoffice@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07870212425.

Campaigners are calling on the Government to take a firm stance on reforming the House of Lords in light of mixed messages from Number 10.

The Prime Minister said today she wants the size of the House of Lords to be reduced [1] and she urged all parties to do more to encourage peers to retire.

But at the same time she revealed new peers will be created in “due course” [2] which will only add numbers to the bloated chamber.

There are currently 792 peers making the House of Lords the second largest legislative chamber in the world, after China’s National People’s Congress.

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

“There is a blatant contradiction in what the Prime Minister has said today. While we welcome her stated intention to reduce the size of the House of Lords, in reality she is merely paying lip service to the issue.

“Calling on parties to encourage their peers to resign is not enough – in fact it misses the point.

“The most effective way to shrink the second chamber is to move to a slimmed-down, fairly-elected chamber. Voters are tired of unaccountable Lords making laws on their behalf.

“We’ve seen scandal after scandal in the unelected house. There is now clear support for making the second chamber genuinely accountable – rather than just another Westminster private members’ club.

“If the Prime Minister is serious about reducing the number of peers she should lead by example and suspend all new appointments until there are real plans for reform. We need clarity from Number 10 on the issue – not what looks like hypocrisy.”

The result of polling, published by the Electoral Reform Society earlier this month [3], revealed nearly four in five (78%) of those with a view believe there are already too many Lords.

And 60% of the public oppose the mooted appointments – compared to just 9% who support them.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

The Electoral Reform Society are calling for an elected second chamber of around 300 members, using the Single Transferable Vote form of proportional representation. Longer terms of 12-15 years and election by thirds would ensure the House of Commons always had a fresher mandate.

Polling in October showed two thirds of the public want an elected House of Lords: https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/two-thirds-now-want-elected-house-of-lords-ahead-of-key-report/

[1] https://twitter.com/elashton/status/965928588020240384
[2] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-ready-stuff-house-lords-12057082
[3] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/media-centre/press-releases/poll-shows-overwhelming-opposition-to-new-lords-appointments/

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