16 new peers in ‘London-dominated’ House of Lords ‘will cost taxpayer half a million pounds a year’

Chamber of the House of Lords. Picture by the UK Parliament (CC BY 3.0).

Boris Johnson’s 16 new Lords will increase London’s dominance over the rest of the UK and cost the taxpayer half a million pounds a year, the Electoral Reform Society has said.

Their figures are based on the average of 579 peers per month who attended the House and made a claim last year. The average amount claimed across the course of 2019-20 was £30,687 per peer per year.

The Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, has criticised the number of new peers, accusing the Prime Minister of a “massive u-turn” on his predecessor Theresa May’s policy of reducing it in size.

The Electoral Reform Society has calculated that the new round of peers could cost taxpayers as much as £728,688 per year, once the virtual proceedings come to an end (those attending virtually claim a reduced amount), if the peers turn up each day.

“As the world’s second-largest legislative body, surpassed only by China’s National People’s Congress, the growing size of the Lords comes at a huge cost to taxpayers and our democracy,” Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said.

“Voters are tired of being taken for a ride. It’s time to move to a much smaller, fairly-elected chamber.

“While many Lords do work hard, voters might feel less aggrieved about paying them if they actually had a say on who sat in there. It is simply unacceptable in a democracy for party donors to be handed votes on our laws for life.

“This announcement marks the end of any pretence that the Lords is an independent revising chamber. The unelected House of Lords is a corrupting influence at the heart of Westminster, and Prime Ministers simply cannot help themselves. Enough is enough.”

 

‘Tinkering’

Willie Sullivan, Senior Director at the Electoral Reform Society, said that the institution was “already bursting at the seams”.

“This latest batch of appointments from the PM takes numbers over 830. Over 800 unelected lawmakers will be voting on decisions that affect all of us, with no way for voters to kick them out.

“The fact that the PM over-rode the view of the independent appointments commission to appoint a key party donor is another sign the system is broken. The time for tinkering around the edges is long over – voters want real change in this publicly-funded private member’s club.

“Trust in politics is at rock bottom, and it’s no wonder when party donors and loyalists can be packed into our second chamber – in unlimited numbers – at the whim of the Prime Minister. This is an incredibly dangerous position for any democracy, and we need action now to introduce some accountability into this warped house.

“The PM has promised to ‘level up’ Britain. The London-dominated House of Lords would be a good place to start. It’s time to replace it with a proportionally-elected Senate of the Nations and Regions, introducing some much-needed accountability in this broken chamber.

“Voters across the spectrum want to see a real overhaul in the unelected Lords. The current set-up is deeply corrosive and drags down our politics with – often justified – accusations of cronyism. Peers and MPs must come together to set out a package of reform when Parliament returns.”

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