Life-time appointments to Lords should not be handed out as rewards for failure

Doug Cowan, Head of Digital

Posted on the 1st November 2022

A seat in the House of Lords is a lifetime appointment to make our laws, not a gift to be handed out by a prime minister as they head out the door. Yet the prime minister’s power to appoint who they like, and ignore the House of Lords Appointments Commission when it suites them, means these positions regularly go to political supporters and bag carriers.

Reports suggest Liz Truss could release an honours list following just 44-days in office after she announced her resignation as prime minister.

It comes as former prime minister Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list is still yet to be published and risks creating a large influx of new peers, further ballooning the size of the already bloated second chamber with a resignation rollover.

The unelected Lords currently has around 800 members, making it larger than the elected Commons, which has 650 MPs, and also the second largest legislature in the world after communist China’s National People’s Congress.

If Liz Truss chooses to pack the Lords with new peers on leaving office, it will only further damage Westminster’s legitimacy at a time when public faith in politics is already stretched to the limit.

Only last month, Number 10 announced the creation of 26 new peers in an honours list. Analysis by the Electoral Reform Society calculates these new appointments alone are likely to add around £727,000 a year in additional costs to the Lords, as each new peer can claim £332 for every day they attend as well as travel expenses.

We’re still waiting for Boris Johnson’s resignation honours to be announced, with a second Truss list added to the pile we could be seeing a bumper batch of appointments filling the already bloated house even more ex-MPs, donors and political allies.

The latest honours lists come as successive prime ministers have failed to abide by plans to reduce the size of the Lords to around 600 members by only appointing one new peer for every two who step down.

Suppose Prime Ministers want to reward the supporters who propped them up as the public turned against them, and helped them cling on to power as it was clear their days were numbered. In that case, there are plenty of honours that don’t include the ability to propose amendments and vote on legislation for life.

We need a smaller, elected House of Lords, where lawmakers are chosen by the people they serve not hand-picked by the prime minister of the day. It’s time to end this farce and deliver the democratic second chamber our country needs.

Add your name to our call to let the public elect the Lords

Read more posts...