House of Lords CULL: New peers should be banned as fury erupts at ‘taxpayer-funded club’
Nigel Farage criticises the ‘bloated House of Lords’
Critics have long called for the Lords to be scrapped or at the very least undergo radical reform. The backlash has grown in recent days with huge numbers of peers being appointed, leaving the upper chamber “bursting at the seams with donors and party figures”, according to one critic. There are currently more than 800 members of the Lords, a figure which ballooned last year when Boris Johnson appointed 52 new peers – including 16 at the end of 2020.
The new appointees include former Scottish Conservative Party leader and current MSP Ruth Davidson, Brexiteer and former MEP Daniel Hannan, and Chair of Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign, Jennifer Chapman.
But new analysis from the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found most of the Prime Minister’s new Lords appointees have a primary background in politics, “shattering” the myth of an independent second chamber.
The pro-democracy group said this brings the proportion of Lords whose main background is in elected politics to 30 percent.
The analysis found nine of the 16 new peers (56 percent) have a background in representative politics, two (12 percent) have a background in the voluntary sector, NGOs and think tanks, while one each have a background in banking and finance; clergy/religious; international affairs and diplomacy; legal professions; police/security.
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The ERS insisted voters, not political parties, should decide who gets to vote on their laws for life, and are demanding appointments be halted while parties bring forward legislation to move to a proportionally-elected upper house.
Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the ERS, said: “Those who vote on our laws for life should be picked by the public, not parties.
“Sadly, this latest round of peerages provides us with more of the same problems.
“There are now over 800 Lords, and the chamber is bursting at the seams with donors and party figures.
“Every day the second chamber looks more like a taxpayer-funded private member’s club.
“We need to move to a much smaller, proportionally-elected second chamber that can stand up for the nations and the regions of the UK.
“With the majority of new peers coming from professional politics, it is increasingly wrong to claim that our unelected lawmakers give the second chamber political independence.”
“We need a moratorium on new appointments until parties put forward proposals to move to the democratic revising chamber Britain needs.”
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Last month the Lord Speaker, who chairs daily business in the House of Lords chamber and is an ambassador for the work of the House, questioned the number of new peers being appointed by the Prime Minister into the upper chamber.
Lord Fowler said: “My fundamental concern is about the number of new peers that have been appointed by the Prime Minister in his first 12 months in Office.
“Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists.
“This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.”
Last month, the ERS warned the latest expansion of the House of Lords could cost taxpayers an additional £490,992 a year.
Peers are able to claim allowances as well as tax tax-free expenses, and can receive as much as £323 tax-free a day for the rest of their lives for simply turning up at Parliament.
Dr Garland said: “As the world’s second-largest legislative body, surpassed only by China’s National People’s Congress, the growing size of the Lords comes at a huge cost to taxpayers and our democracy.
“Voters are tired of being taken for a ride. It’s time to move to a much smaller, fairly-elected chamber.”
But defending the role hundreds of peers play, a House of Lords spokesman told Express.co.uk: “The House is a busy and effective revising chamber and has continued to hold the Government to account during the pandemic.”
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