The UK’s shortest serving PM hands out peerages to friends and supporters

Author:
Willie Sullivan, Senior Director, Campaigns and Scotland

Posted on the 2nd January 2024

In the days between Christmas and New Year, the government tried to quietly slip out some bad news – it hoped many people would be too distracted by remnant cheeseboards and left-over Turkey to notice Liz Truss’s resignation honours list.

This inverse Christmas present was nestled away in the broader honours list issued by the King to recognise people who have done exceptional work for charity or worthy causes. Meanwhile, Liz Truss’s list, which handed out peerages to three of her key supporters during her disastrous stint in No 10, only serves to show up how rotten the current system for appointing people to the House of Lords is.

Liz Truss appointed one peer for every 1.5 days served

After an abortive 49-day premiership, the latest appointments mean Liz Truss has sent 32 people to the House of Lords in total – or one for every one and a half days she was in office. This includes the 26 peerages she already created on October 14th, 2022 – slipped out on the day Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked as Chancellor – another three Peers she created so they could become ministers, and the most recent three announced in her resignation honours on December 29, 2023.

Analysis by the ERS shows that this now makes Liz Truss by far the most prolific ennobler for time in office compared to other recent former prime ministers; Boris Johnson elevated a new peer for every 16 days he was in office, Theresa May for every 25 days and Gordon Brown for every 20.

Prime Minister Total appointments (incl HOLAC appts) PM appointments Days in office Days in Office per peer created
Blair 364 322 3706 11.51
Brown 65 52 1048 20.15
Cameron 230 218 2253 10.33
May 46 43 1106 25.72
Johnson 75 71 1138 16.03
Truss 32 32 49 1.53
Sunak 5 5

Liz Truss’s resignation list means that yet more peers are being added to the already bloated House of Lords, which is another blow for the recommendations of 2017 ‘Burns Report’, which urged a ‘two out, one in’ approach to new peers, in an attempt to reduce the size of the chamber.

The size shows how out of control the peerages system has become, as the House of Lords already has around 800 members making it the second largest legislative chamber in the world after China’s National People’s Congress.

But there is another corrosive impact of Liz Truss’s list and that is on the public’s trust in politics.

It will feel like an insult to many to see the UK’s shortest-serving PM handing out peerages to friends and supporters after her calamitous stint as prime minister. It looks like the political class dishing out rewards for failure at a time when many people are still suffering the effects of her turbulent premiership.

This all highlights just how urgently we need to reform the House of Lords to prevent further damage to the people’s trust in politics and therefore, our democracy.  It is clear this is not a fit or proper way to choose who sits in our Parliament.

This is why we need to replace the bloated and unelected Lords with a smaller elected chamber where the people of this country, not former prime ministers, choose who sits in Parliament making the laws we all live under.

Add your name to our call to end resignation honours and create an elected chamber

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