Boris Johnson asks new peers to defer take-up amid calls for House of Lords reform
A Cabinet minister has said he believes the House of Lords is due for reform, “not least” owing to its size, as details emerged of the MPs expected to be granted peerages in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list.
But Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said it would be “very difficult” to get political consensus on any possible shake-up, despite his belief there are “few” in the House of Commons who would oppose change.
It comes as Mr Johnson asked the MPs he has nominated for peerages to delay taking them up so they do not trigger by-elections.
The politicians are all understood to have agreed to put off heading to the Lords until the end of the current Parliament to spare Rishi Sunak the challenges.
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to be on Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.
The Times suggested that so too are Cop26 President Alok Sharma, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack and former minister Nigel Adams.
Sources close to Mr Johnson did not deny the report, which also said his former chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, deputy Ben Gascoigne and advisers Ross Kempsell and Charlotte Owen will get peerages.
Asked if he believes it is appropriate that service to a prime minister should be rewarded in this way, Mr Stride said it would not be right for him to “start opining on individual appointments”.
But he said he does think the House of Lords needs reform, highlighting that it has swelled to greater than the size of the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee.
He told Times Radio: “The House of Commons probably as a body generally would not be happy with the size of the House of Lords, the fact that… what is effectively an undemocratic body perhaps has a role in certain areas that it does.
“I think there are few in the House of Commons who wouldn’t say that there should be change.”
But he said any prospect of a shake-up has been hindered by the fact MPs have “never been able to coalesce around a single solution”.
He added: “If your question is does the… House of Lords need reform? I think absolutely.
“Not least to the point you’re making: its size, which has now grown to, I think, over 800 members, which is larger than the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee.
“I do think there is scope for change, but it is one of those things that has been very difficult to get political consensus on.”
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