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Burnham calls for regional House of Lords with equal representation from Wales

07 Jul 2021 2 minutes Read
Andy Burnham giving evidence to the committee

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.”

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Mr Williams
Mr Williams
3 months ago

If only Labour members had voted for Andy Burnham to be Labour leader instead of Jeremy Corbyn when they did. Imagine what could have been ….

Last edited 3 months ago by Mr Williams
Shan Morgain
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

No back then Burnham was not a nice package. He’s changed since.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Shan Morgain

I respect your opinion but I disagree, I have always liked Andy Burnham.

John Brooks
John Brooks
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

To be honest his campaign back then was pretty lacklustre. He has honed his leadership skills as Greater Manchester mayor. His views on the Lords are fine but don’t really address the issues faced by Wales.

Paul
Paul
3 months ago

By proportion of population, 4% of the House of Lords coming from Wales is not far off what it should be (4.7%). Part of Wales’s problem is that it is a very small fish in a big UK pond.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Indeed it is Paul, and shows why federalism in the uk – ‘radical’ or otherwise -would not work.

Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago

It won’t happen. It’s not in the interests of the Tory party to reform the constitution unless it helps to consolidate their hold on power hence their attack on devolution, so they won’t do it. The Labour party won’t do it either as they a). have very little chance of returning to power and b). still have this belief that they have a ‘democratic’ right to rule with a minority of the vote under the first-past-the-post electoral system. Tony Blair could have done this in 1997 with his super majority with the full support of the Liberal Democrats (who had… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
3 months ago
Reply to  Bruce

You are absolutely correct in what you say, Labour could have reformed the UK properly when it was in power but left the job half done, despite many people warning of a future Conservative government which would seek to reverse their reforms (remember Peter Hain – “this is good for Wales” on LCOs, “Labour in Westminster, Labour in Wales working together for the people in Wales” justifying the present instead of planning for the future). I completely agree with everything you wrote. I think though that our path to independence will come (directly or indirectly) through the Labour Party still… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Mr Williams
Bruce
Bruce
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

I fully agree that federal UK/home rule/devo max are legitimate stepping stones to full independence (and certainly a lot more preferable to the current set up) but I don’t think this will ever happen with the Conservatives for the reasons I gave above. I’m not confident that UK Labour will do it either even if they ever get back in at Westminster in spite of Welsh Labour’s support for it. I just get the impression that they will renege on a promise to implement home rule or else it will be too watered down to mean anything. A future Labour… Read more »

Alan Reilly
Alan Reilly
3 months ago

House of Lords should be abolished. It’s just another glaring example of how the “UK” is not a democracy.

Head of state – unelected.
Upper house – unelected.

Chris
Chris
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Reilly

Apparently SOME “unelected elites” are good

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Reilly

Indy takes care of that problem

j humphrys
j humphrys
3 months ago

“The Commons evenly reflects the country”. He’s talking about England. They all do!

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