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

Is David Cameron actually seeking to destroy the Lords?

Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:00:58 +0000

Yesterday’s new peerage appointments attracted almost universal criticism for further adding to the inexorable growth in size of the House of Lords under David Cameron. But could the gradual erosion of the Lords’ reputation actually benefit the government by weakening parliament? Might it even be a deliberate plan? And – given that the Prime Minister […]

Read more...

Elections, referendums, political parties and the Constitution Unit

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 10:00:06 +0000

In the third of our series of posts adapted from presentations at the Unit’s 20th anniversary conference, Alan Renwick documents on how the UK’s electoral framework has evolved since 1995 and illustrates how the Unit has shaped the implementation of changes. Looking forward, he identifies the franchise and the current gulf between citizens and politicians as key areas for […]

Read more...

The Constitutional Standards of the House of Lords’ Constitution Committee: A valuable tool for enhancing scrutiny

Tue, 25 Aug 2015 11:00:47 +0000

To mark the launch of the second edition of The Constitutional Standards of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Jack Simson Caird considers the role that a set of constitutional standards could play in the current government. Drawing on the example of English votes for English laws, he argues that such a code would increase […]

Read more...
Mailing List

Connect with us

RSSFlickr

Footer menu