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

Could tactical voting dilemmas in 2015 revive calls for AV?

Mon, 27 Apr 2015 09:00:11 +0000

The growth in minor party support in the 2015 general election looks set to create very difficult tactical voting dilemmas in some constituencies. Meg Russell reflects on how a move to the Alternative Vote (AV), which was rejected in a referendum in 2011, might have eased such dilemmas – suggesting that a messy election result […]

Read more...

Party manifestos fail to offer clear commitments on the redrawing of Parliamentary boundaries

Fri, 24 Apr 2015 10:00:11 +0000

Will the rules for the redistribution of Parliamentary constituencies be changed by the next government – as recommended by a House of Commons Committee? Or will another disruptive exercise reducing the number of MPs begin within a year of the 2015 election, as currently scheduled? As Ron Johnston, David Rossiter and Charles Pattie show, there […]

Read more...

“In the absence of facts, myth rushes in”: Considering the consequences of a hung parliament in May 2015

Thu, 23 Apr 2015 10:00:07 +0000

On 15 April 2015, Professor Robert Hazell, Director of the Constitution Unit, and Peter Riddell, Director of the Institute for Government, spoke at a Constitution Unit seminar entitled ‘Coalition or Minority Government in May?’ Juliet Wells comments on the event. With a fortnight remaining before polling day, and national polls steadfastly suggesting that neither of […]

Read more...
Mailing List

Connect with us

RSSFlickr

Footer menu