BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Michael Crick
« Previous | Main | Next »

Stop making new lords, political big-wigs urge Cameron

Michael Crick | 22:31 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A cross-party group of political big-wigs, including many senior members of the House of Lords, is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to stop creating new peers.

Mr Cameron has created 117 new members of the Lords since becoming prime minister last May, a faster rate of elevation than any PM in British history.

What is more, this expansion has occurred at the same time his government has legislated to reduce the size of the House of Commons by 50 members, from 650 to 600.

The group, who have put their names to a pamphlet called "House Full" published by the Constitution Unit at University College, London, includes the former cabinet secretary Lord (Robin) Butler, the former lord chancellor, Lord Mackay, the former Commons speaker Baroness (Betty) Boothroyd, the former lord chief justice Lord Woolf and Lord Stevenson, who used to chair the Lords Appointments Commission.

Other supporters include David Steel, Margaret Jay and Michael Forsyth, who are also peers.

The Lords now has 831 members, though only 792 are currently entitled to attend and vote. These figures are far greater than at any time since the reforms of 1999 when most hereditary peers were excluded from the upper chamber, and there were only 666 members.

"There is now a major concern that if appointments continue, the House of Lords will simply cease to be able to function," the group says.

The high numbers put a huge strain on resources, they say, make it difficult to manage debates and other business, and there are too many new peers who are unfamiliar with Lords culture, procedures and practices.

The group says a moratorium should be placed on new appointments until membership falls, through deaths, to 750 members.

On recent trends of about 15-20 deaths a year, that would entail a ban on new peers for five years or more.

"Until the size of the chamber has dropped below 750 eligible members, the House of Lords should simple be considered 'full'," the authors write. After that appointments should only be made to maintain the number up to 750.

This would mean that the coalition would have to drop its pledge in the May 2010 Coalition Agreement to make future appointments with the goal that membership of the Lords reflects the proportion of votes achieved by each party at the 2010 election.

That could require as many as 1142 peers, estimates the report's main author, Meg Russell of the Constitution Unit.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Another 117 unelected, unaccountable and unrepresentative individuals lying around like butcher's dogs waiting to pick up £300 - 400 per day just for turning up. Is this part of the deficit reduction plan?
    It is exactly the sort of thing that I expect from the 'The Old Etonian Clown', quintessential Tory Boy and ex leading member of the thuggish Bullingdon Club..

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm just waiting for Baroness Warsi and Lord Reid to start trying to convince everyone that you can't have an elected and much smaller Second Chamber "because it would be Un-British and might the electorate might vote for the wrong sort of person..."

  • Comment number 3.

    DAVE DOESN'T DO CUNNING.

    When Dave lies, it has 'BLATANT LIE' all over it.

    When Dave promotes Dave, he uses an image that shouts FALSE.

    When Dave is toff-nasty, it is IN YER FACE.

    When Dave stuffs the Lords, he JUST DOES IT in full view. It follows:

    Dave is arrogant; either because he is a fool, or a knave.

    But the Conservatives made him their leader, and Conservative voters (plus poor Needy Nick) made him Prime Minister.

    Who y' gonna blame?

  • Comment number 4.

    ARE YOU THINKING WHAT I'M THINKING? (#2)

    There is a Lords page, on the web, that says you should contact a Lord when you MP can't or won't engage. I contacted Baroness Warsi (Deputy Chair Conservative Party) about the Conservative Liar Flyer (after my Conservative MP got huffy).

    You won't believe this - I GOT NO REPLY!

    DISMANTLE WESTMINSTER

  • Comment number 5.

    JUST HAD A FATUOUS RESPONSE FROM KENNETH CLARKE DEPT.

    I pointed out that 3 CREDIT REFERENCE AGENCIES compile dossiers on each of us, using data from third parties, imperfectly transferred and recorded, to which they refer when advising FOURTH parties regarding our identity and or credit status. THEY DO THIS LEGALLY, WITH NO DISCLOSURE TO US REQUIRED. When they cock up, they may LEGALLY require us to PAY A FEE to inspect the faulty dossier.

    needles to say Our Ken's department did not address the problem above. FOOLS OR KNAVES? (You may rate in order of preference.)

  • Comment number 6.

    Are Lords the problem: Good lord no!
    The problem in the UK and the US is "LOBBIES", the corrupting process that bends politicians to the will of special interests. Lobbies serve to enslave politicians, reduce their objectivity, make them forget whom they represent.
    Among the major lobbies that have, over the decades, carried out this enslaving process are Israelis organizations as well as the Christian Right.
    Obama said that he would reduce or eliminate lobbyism, but it has escalated like a squeezed balloon. On Tuesday 5 April 2011 three Israelis appeared before the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. Two were retired IDF generals and one was Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Among other dubious accomplishments, Gold convinced the Clinton Administration not to press Israel on the issue of the Golan Heights.
    The entire Middle East is engulfed in turmoil. Just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty...it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk.
    What do you think demanded that the UN General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report?
    Lobbyism.
    What do you think promulgates the issue of Israel's jeopardy which is nothing more than a facade behind which Israelis justify expansion in violation of international law?
    Lobbyism.
    How does Israel continuously sidestep the 1967 Green line i.e. UN Resolution 242?
    Lobbysim.
    I don't mean to pick on Israel, though they are most likely the biggest, strongest lobbyists. But it's true that most voters do not realize how their own political system works; it largely works through lobbyism, which is not democracy; It's not even plutocracy.
    Lobbification is a Trojan Horse of political corruption. The US and the UK have pulled the horse through the gates, and now they seem incapable of getting rid of it and its contents.
    Forget the "lords", who cares what they are called?
    The the real problem is lobbyism.

  • Comment number 7.

    '1. At 10:21am 20th Apr 2011, IPGABP1 '

    Have to agree. Mind you, if purging on the basis of a thuggish demeanour, there are a few recently enobled from elsewhere who could also bear ejecting too.

  • Comment number 8.

    didn't Ernie stuff the consultants mouths 'with gold' and Lloyd George fill the Lords with 'his mates'....it goes on, guys....Dave is the latest in a very long line...come the revolution....

  • Comment number 9.

    Not so long ago, I would have pleaded the case was a worthy and intelligent break on an over zealous Commons. But so badly have successive governments screwed up the process of reform that the House is no longer of any discernible value to anyone.

    However, the chamber itself could come in handy. What better place to have an English Parliament (always assuming that someone in the body politic is willing to accept responsibility for treating the English as second rate citizens).

  • Comment number 10.

    More unelected Lords, continued PFI, even more PMQ bickering, twisting of UN resolutions, manifesto promises ripped up and ignored, voting reform treated with utter contempt.

    This new politics is so very refreshing.

  • Comment number 11.

    @4 Barrie

    WESTMINSTER DELENDA EST!

    ;-D


    PS - to the mods - it isn't a foreign obscenity!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthago_delenda_est

  • Comment number 12.

    Just came across another set of views (author & comments)...

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/davidhughes/100084587/too-many-members-in-the-house-of-lords-what-are-they-talking-about/

    Interesting how such things get interpreted, depending.

  • Comment number 13.

    There is a tried and tested mechanism for reducing the number of seat-holders in the Lords; whilst holding on to the most interesting/interested people. It is an in-house by-election. It is what the hereditaries went through, when their numbers were reduced from 750 to 92, back in 1999. It is how those 92 hereditaries replenish their numbers. NOT ONE life peer has suggested that this process be applied to the life peers as well. Let me repeat that, so it sinks in ~ NOT ONE.

  • Comment number 14.

    INTEGRITY FREE ZONE (#13)

    QED Matt. Westminster draws its own. They are there for themselves. While Westminster stands - in its entirity - this country will be ill-managed.

    Fascinating that the ones 'delivered by blood' seem to have vestigial honour!

    SPOILPARTYGAMES

  • Comment number 15.

    @ barriesingleton

    I'm afraid your comments were far too cryptic for me ... could you provide a plain-english translation?

  • Comment number 16.

    Surely it can be no coincidence that Mr Cameron has elevated so many chums to the House of Lords with the AV Referendum going on?

    Some countries have an open lack of democracy that Mr Cameron commits our forces to help requested by that country and the Arab League.

    However, Mr Cameron, some types of repression in England appear to be slyly sliding back to times that many in England fought to stop?

    In conclusion, Mr Cameron AND Mr Clegg, my politics are mixed and not fixed. The people of England are watching and judging you both. Get over yourselves and demonstrate what you ACTUALLY know about those who pay taxes to pay your wages - and those who contribute to your parties with so much money that they get tax relief to keep your political parties going? Just a thought that neither of you Cameron and Clegg will never read nor even consider as let them eat cake?

    Just because people you are supposed to serve, don't storm onto the streets of England, doesn't make you right in your slash and burn policies. Yes, another cliche, nonetheless, equally valid right now!

 

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.