Burnham calls for regional House of Lords with equal representation from Wales
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has said that he would only return to Westminster if it gave him the opportunity to fight the over-centralisation of British politics.
That would include a new House of Lords with equal representation from English regional and national leaders from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, he said.
He said that the upper chamber currently over-represents London, with a “majority of people in the House of Lords have a primary residence inside the M25 […] a major problem in a national parliament”.
“The Commons evenly reflects the country but the Lords doesn’t,” he said. “I would say if there’s parliamentary reform needed, it is there, and I can’t see how that can be any justification for continuing with the House of Lords in its current form.”
The Greater Manchester Mayor, who has been tipped as a possible Labour leadership candidate should Keir Starmer come unstuck, was appearing before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee at the House of Commons.
‘Private members club’
Research by the Electoral Reform Society has shown a regional skew in the House of Lords. Currently, only 4% of Lords live in Wales while 24% are based in London.
Another 20% have their addresses in the south-east of England and 12% in the east of England.
“Equalising regional representation in the Commons is an understandable aim – but on its own is not enough to tackle the democratic crisis in Parliament,” Dr Jess Garland, Director of Policy and Research at the Electoral Reform Society, said when the research was conducted last year.
“The second chamber is significantly tilted towards the capital and the South East. Too often the Lords looks like a Westminster private members club, rather than the revising chamber Britain needs to stand up for its nations and regions.
“Over half of Lords live in the capital, or the East & South East of England – while other regions are grossly under-represented. Other regions are unrepresented in half of Parliament, in large part because it is packed with Prime Ministers’ Westminster allies.
“To truly level up representation across the UK we need to overhaul the unelected Lords and ensure we have a dedicated chamber for the nations and regions of the UK. This past year has shown that we need real change to give power to those outside Westminster.”