UK Politics

UKIP demands more seats in Lords

Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption UKIP leader Nigel Farage is demanding a "fair quota" of representatives in the House of Lords

UKIP will "absolutely insist" on being granted new peers in the House of Lords, leader Nigel Farage has told his party at a conference.

Mr Farage said the party would demand a "fair quota" following its performance in the European elections.

It comes after former leader Lord Pearson accused the government of dishonesty for not doing so already.

He said the coalition was committed to a policy that should give UKIP a bigger presence in the Lords.

But the peer, who briefly led UKIP in 2010, said ministers had made clear they had no intention of delivering.

UKIP has three representatives in the Lords, all defectors from the Conservatives.

Mr Farage, who has petitioned David Cameron for greater representation in the Lords in the past, told the conference in Eastbourne: "We are going to absolutely insist we are given a sensible, fair quota of working peers to operate in the House of Lords."

He added that UKIP will have to "up our game" if they are to be ready for the general election next year.

Lord Pearson has written to Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude complaining of the government's failure to appoint UKIP members to the Lords.

In a letter, seen by the BBC, he said it represented the "sort of behaviour which makes the political class so increasingly unpopular with real people".

The topped the polls in the European elections with 27.5% of the vote, which he said made its case "even stronger than it was before".

In the coalition agreement, the government agreed lords should be appointed to make the upper house reflect the share of the vote secured by the parties in the last general election.

An analysis by University College London suggested UKIP would need 23 extra peers to meet that commitment.

The UCL report, published in 2011, opposed the government's policy and called for a moratorium on new appointments.

Lord Pearson told Radio Four's Today programme: "Our democracy requires that we have more than three peers in the House of Lords when we're getting 27% of the vote in the latest national election. I mean it is transparently dishonest.

"It is dishonest for over a period of four years to go on saying we're going to do this and then making it perfectly clear that we've no intention of it."

Under review

The government policy set out in the coalition agreement remains in place.

But in a letter to Lord Pearson in 2010 David Cameron said he had no intention of increasing the number of UKIP peers.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said its position was unchanged but the prime minister would continue to keep the numbers of minority parties in the Lords under review.

Since May 2010 160 peers have been created. The Green Party of England and Wales was granted a seat in the Lords last year.

Last year, Lord Pearson suggested in a letter to the prime minister that UKIP peers would support the government most of the time.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that would no longer apply.

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