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Boris Johnson asks new peers to defer take-up amid calls for House of Lords reform

08 Nov 2022 3 minute read
The House of Lords. Picture by the House of Lords (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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.

Appropriate

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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Paul
Paul
27 days ago

If it’s impossible for MPs to reach a concensus, come up with 2 or 3 options and put them to the people in a referendum using Alternative Vote. Or let us elect a non-party-dominated Constitutional Convention to put together a full written constitution covering the whole of parliament, devolution, human rights etc

Ieuan Evans
Ieuan Evans
23 days ago
Reply to  Paul

Now that seems a good idea

Richard 1
Richard 1
27 days ago

It’s not about reforming the Lords, it’s about the tories barefacedly clinging to power in the Commons for as long as they can. Starmer is colluding by providing no challenge.

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
27 days ago
Reply to  Richard 1

Labour = Tory Lite. Corbyn excepted, but he was booted out by Starmer.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
27 days ago

Reform of both chambers is long overdue, including getting rid of the class-based designations of Commons and “Lords”.
As regards the lower chamber, the most pressing reforms are providing seating for every member and introducing a modern (e.g. electronic) voting system.
For the upper chamber, this bloated assembly filled by political patronage needs reducing to a 100 member, fully elected revising chamber.
However, I can’t see much of the above happening in this backward country

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago
Reply to  Steve Woods

Correction – 4 backward countries We are just as guilty as the others despite being one of the smaller units.

George Thomas
George Thomas
27 days ago

There are times where an unelected house is a very good thing (experts who cannot commit to full-time political role or people from minority groups who can’t yet win a popular vote but will do in 5-10 years time as world becomes more progressive), but this is the opposite to that. A politician who was always useless, who the press used to stop Jeremy Corbyn, who then proved himself to be useless now having such power over our lives until these appointees die. An unelected house which grows bigger and bigger but budgets being cut for everything else. Democracy can… Read more »

I.Humphrys
I.Humphrys
27 days ago
Reply to  George Thomas

Unelected is “very good thing”? I’ll bet you love the EU!

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
27 days ago
Reply to  I.Humphrys

Every member of the European Parliament is elected. I think Brexit lied to you

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago

If elected off central party lists is your preference then it’s just fine. Otherwise it could stand some changes.

Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
27 days ago
Reply to  hdavies15

You mean like we have a little bit of in Cymru?

Last edited 27 days ago by Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
Y Tywysog Lloegr a Moscow
27 days ago

Scrap the whole place. Any institution which can viably “honour” Nadine Dorries has no credibility.
What worth a title if Nadine Doris also has it? How is that an honour?

hdavies15
hdavies15
27 days ago

Yet another panto dame witha track record to prove it. No doubt Handcock will turn up there some time soon.

Gwyn Hopkins
27 days ago

The House of Lords consists of England’s 26 Bishops and Archbishops, 91 Hereditary Peers and 654 Appointees (mainly yes men/women) of Prime Ministers. These 3 undemocratic and archaic means of designation to it are surely indefensible – if not outrageous – in the 21st Century. The House needs very drastic reformation or abolition.

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