Skip to site navigation

Press Release: Lords appointments urgently need regulation: Constitution Unit

1 August 2013

Today's appointments to the House of Lords - with 30 new peers announced - again demonstrates the urgent need for regulation of prime ministerial patronage powers, says Constitution Unit Deputy Director and Lords expert Meg Russell.

The appointments (14 Conservative, 10 Liberal Democrat, 5 Labour and 1 Green) take the eligible membership of the Lords to 785, but with 53 peers temporarily disqualified or on leave of absence, the potential membership of the chamber has reached 838. This is a new post-1999 high, and 172 members larger than 13 years ago - as shown in the chart below.

Lords membership 2000 - August 2013 (all other figures are for January)

hoflappointments


Commenting on today's appointments, Meg Russell said: 'Until some formal regulation of appointments to the House of Lords is introduced, the size of the chamber will grow and grow. Each Prime Minister seeks to boost their own side, and counteract appointments by their predecessors. But as appointments are for life, this means people arriving in the chamber in far greater numbers than they depart it'.

Options for regulation (as set out by Dr Russell recently in evidence to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, and in a high profile report published in 2011 following Cameron's early appointments) include:

· Introducing an absolute size cap for the House of Lords;

· Requiring Prime Minister to appoint on a 'one in, one out' basis (or a 'one in, two out' basis if the chamber is to ever reduce in size);

· Agreeing a written formula for party balance among appointments (probably based on general election vote shares);

· Giving new power to the independent House of Lords Appointments Commission to police the system.

Meg Russell commented 'Something must be done, as the current system of appointments is unsustainable. It also gives huge patronage power to the Prime Minister. It is urgent to agree a maximum size for the chamber, and the appropriate formula for sharing out appointments, and to have an independent body to police this. Until then, the Lords will continually rise in both size and cost'.

Notes for editors

Join the Debate

Blog

News

Deliver us from EVEL?

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:00:58 +0000

Bob Morris draws on the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure currently passing through Parliament to consider the viability of English Votes for English Laws. Yes, from EVEL (i.e. English Votes on English Laws), not evil as in sin. But, surely, now there is devolution all round except in England, it must be […]

Read more...

An English Constitutional Convention could benefit both main parties in the face of the UKIP threat

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:12 +0000

Last week Robert Hazell set out some of the options for a possible UK constitutional convention. Here Meg Russell proposes some more specific answers to the questions that he posed: for example on what a constitutional convention should be tasked to do, timescale, and membership. She suggests that a more limited convention than Labour proposes, […]

Read more...

Selecting the Justices: Four suggestions

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:00:00 +0000

As the UK Supreme Court marks its fifth anniversary, Graham Gee and Kate Malleson reflect on how the process of selecting the Justices can be improved. Earlier this month the UK Supreme Court celebrated its fifth anniversary. There has been a flurry of vacancies, retirements and new appointments during the Court’s first five years, with only four of […]

Read more...
Mailing List

Connect with us

RSSFlickr

Footer menu