Second chamber turning into ‘House of Lobbyists’ in wake of Times investigation

Posted on the 2nd January 2018

  • Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 2nd January 2017
  • Darren Hughes is available for interviews. For more information, contact [email protected] or 07717211630

The Electoral Reform Society are calling for an urgent review of House of Lords protocol, after an investigation by The Times [1] found that peers who have retired can give guests access to bars and restaurants in the chamber for the rest of their lives – raising significant concerns about underhand lobbying.

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

“At a time when we need to be reducing the financial burden of the unelected House of Lords, granting all former peers access to its subsidised bars and restaurants is massively self-defeating. Overwhelming Lords resources with hundreds of ex-members confirms the image many voters have of the second chamber – a private members’ club.

“However, this decision also poses significant risks for democracy in what is an already undemocratic House.

“The authorities are granting membership in all-but-name to those who are meant to have quit. These ex-members will have extensive access to ministers and influencers, meaning we risk seeing the emergence of a lobbyist-dominated Lords – as if the situation wasn’t already bad enough.

“That this decision appears to have been made without debate is extremely concerning. We accidentally create a ‘shadow’ upper house, where voters are shut out, but lobbyists get unparalleled access to decision-makers.

“The Palace of Westminster should not be a retirement home or a private members club – it should act as the Mother of all Parliaments it claims to be.

“We urge those peers who do support reform to raise this issue in the chamber. It is a matter of democratic urgency that the Lords’ authorities must review this previously unknown decision.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1] The Times found that ex-peers can bring up to six guests at a time for food and wine, in a perk that enables them to continue to mingle with ministers. It gives them a gilded opportunity to influence policies and new laws, as well as pick up inside information about proposed reforms. See here.

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