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

Austerity, inequality and the Scottish approach to economic growth

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:30:20 +0000

On 11 February 2015, Nicola Sturgeon spoke at an event co-hosted by the Constitution Unit and the UCL Department of Political Science. Sam Sharp reports on the event. Recent predictions suggest the Scottish National Party (SNP) could win as many as 54 seats in May. A poll surge of this kind is not what most […]

Read more...

Governing in an ever looser union

Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:00:32 +0000

Governing is becoming increasingly difficult as devolution accelerates but a new Institute for Government report has identified ways to make it easier. Here, Akash Paun summarises the report’s key findings. Even when severe political disagreements come between the UK’s four governments – as during the Scottish independence referendum campaign – civil servants can and do communicate and […]

Read more...

Reflections on the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission report

Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:00:37 +0000

Cristina Leston-Bandeira looks back at a year spent considering the options for the use of digital in UK government. She highlights key lessons that emerged from the process and introduces the report published on 26 January 2015. Last month’s launch of the report of the Speaker’s Digital Democracy Commission (DDC) marks the end of an extraordinarily […]

Read more...
Mailing List

Connect with us

RSSFlickr

Footer menu