Position on August 2020 Lords Appointments

Posted on the 11th August 2020

The 36 new peerages announced by the Prime Minister on the 31st July take the House of Lords to over 800 members.

Even the Lord Speaker argued that this situation is untenable, and has over-ridden even the Lords’ modest attempts at self-regulation.

Here we analyse the current makeup of the House of Lords, as well as their backgrounds, and the impact of the new appointees of the composition of the chamber.

Key findings

  • A majority of new peers (58%) were primarily elected politicians prior to entering the Lords – more than double the proportion of current peers in the Lords as a whole. Once they formally join the Lords, 30% of peers will have been in representative politics (primarily MPs and council leaders). Another 8% were primarily political staff or activists, compared to a tiny fraction of the public.
  • In addition to representative politics, the most common primary professions of peers remain political staff/activists, and business and commerce.
  • Four new peers (11%) have a primary background in journalism, media or publishing. The proportion of peers with this background will increase by 0.3 percentage points once they formally join the Lords.
  • ONS data shows that 5.2% of all those in paid work in the UK worked for the NHS alone as of December 2019. The King’s Fund says that one in 10 UK workers are in health or social care. Yet just 1.9% of peers have a primary background in medical and healthcare work.
  • Only 3% of the UK workforce was employed in the financial and insurance industry as of March 2020, which compares with 6.4% of peers in banking and finance (Figures are not like for like but provide a comparison: data from ONS).

Professions

Primary profession Current peers % New peers % All peers (inc. new additions) %
Representative politics 218 28.2% 21 58.3% 239 29.6%
Political staff and activists 66 8.5% 1 2.8% 67 8.3%
Business and commerce 65 8.4% 65 8.0%
Legal professions 53 6.9% 53 6.6%
Banking and finance 49 6.3% 3 8.3% 52 6.4%
Higher education 40 5.2% 1 2.8% 41 5.1%
Clergy or religious 37 4.8% 37 4.6%
Voluntary sector, NGOs and think tanks 33 4.3% 33 4.1%
Journalism, media and publishing 31 4.0% 4 11.1% 35 4.3%
Other private sector 28 3.6% 1 2.8% 29 3.6%
Trade unions 20 2.6% 1 2.8% 21 2.6%
Culture, arts and sport 19 2.5% 2 5.6% 21 2.6%
Agriculture and horticulture 15 1.9% 15 1.9%
Medical and healthcare 15 1.9% 15 1.9%
Armed forces 15 1.9% 1 2.8% 16 2.0%
Other public sector 12 1.6% 12 1.5%
Civil service (UK) 10 1.3% 1 2.8% 11 1.4%
International affairs and diplomacy 10 1.3% 10 1.2%
Unclassified 9 1.2% 9 1.1%
Architecture, engineering and construction 8 1.0% 8 1.0%
Police 8 1.0% 8 1.0%
Education and training (not HE) 5 0.6% 5 0.6%
Transport 3 0.4% 3 0.4%
Royal family staff 2 0.3% 2 0.2%
Local authority administration 1 0.1% 1 0.1%
Manual and skilled trades 0 0.0% 0 0.0%

 

Sources used for the new appointments were the Spectator, Politico Playbook and referenced Wiki sources. Dods, online CVs, and referenced Wiki entries were used for the current peers.

Grouping

  • The majority new peers belong to the Conservative grouping (53%), which increases the Conservatives’ presence in the Lords by 0.9 percentage points
  • Only 13.9% of new peers belong to the Labour Party group, whose proportion of peers in the Lords decreases from 22.9% to 22.5%
  • The presence of Crossbenchers is also slightly diminished (0.6 percentage points)

 

Current peers % of current peers in this group New peers % All peers %
Bishops 26 3.4% 0 0 26 3.2%
Conservative (inc. Conservative Independent) 243 31.5% 19 52.8% 262 32.4%
Crossbench 178 23.1% 4 11.1% 182 22.5%
Labour (inc. Independent Labour and Labour Independent) 177 22.9% 5 13.9% 182 22.5%
Liberal Democrat 89 11.5% 0 0.0% 89 11.0%
Lord Speaker 1 0.1% N/A 1 0.1%
Non-affiliated 47 6.1% 7 19.4% 54 6.7%
Other 11 1.4% 1 2.8% 12 1.5%

Gender

  • Less than a third of new appointments are female, which will do little to combat the gender imbalance in the HoL. Out of the now 808 peers, almost 600 of them (almost three quarters) are male. Just 28% of peers are women.

 

Current peers New peers All peers
Male 560 25 585
% male 73% 69% 72%
Female 212 11 223
% female 27% 31% 28%

 

Age

  • As of 2019, the average age of peers was 70. 298 were between the ages of 81 and 90. And 121 – larger than the total number of US Senators – were over the age of 80 (Statista)

Cost and Donations

  • The new peers come at a likely cost to taxpayers of £1.1m a year in expenses, according to Electoral Reform Society analysis of average claims. Peers can usually claim £323 a day tax-free – for the rest of their lives – for signing into the Lords.
  • Including the new peers, at least 22 former donors to political parties have been given peerages in the past 13 years, according to calculations by the Financial Times. In total, those individuals have given £50.4m to the main three parties — either personally or through related companies.

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