Time for change! Outrage as House of Lords in ‘urgent need of reform’

Nigel Farage criticises the ‘bloated House of Lords’

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The controversial by-election system used to choose which aristocrats get to sit in the upper chamber has been put on hold since last March in the light of the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement has led to calls from politicians to urgently change the Chamber by removing 90 hereditary peers who have a right to sit in the House of Lords due to inheritance of a title from family members.

Others have called for a complete abolition of the Chamber and the establishment of an elected Senate.

Critics claim the Upper House which has around 800 members has become bloated and expensive to fund with a daily allowance for members sitting at £323 per day, although this has been temporarily halved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also appointed 52 new peers in 2020 which included former MEP Daniel Hannan, and Chair of Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign Jennifer Chapman.

Labour peer Lord Foulkes of Cumnock said it was “bad enough that the hereditaries have a substantial place in the second chamber.”

He added: “But the fact that they are the only group – and they are now all men – who are able automatically to renew their membership through this discredited and farcical procedure rubs salt into an already open wound.

“The House is in urgent need of reform and we could and we should start with ending this farce.”

Labour colleague Lord Balfe agreed with Lord Foulkes but stressed reforms would have to go “much further” than hereditary peers.

He said: “We must find a way of reducing the size of the House without stopping new people coming in.

“It is no good pulling up the drawbridge and saying that no one else can come in.”

The Electoral Reform Society however said the House of Lords needed to be abolished because it was “unaccountable” and “ undemocratic”.

The group said a “lack of representation is the central problem.”

They added: “The House of Lords remains an undemocratic body, where un-elected lawmakers take part in political decision-making without democratic accountability or representation.

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“Wholesale reform of the House of Lords is much-needed in favour of a chamber that fairly and democratically represents everyone from all across the UK – and the hereditaries must be the first to go.”

Slating hereditary peers, the group which is campaigning for a full reform of the Westminster electoral system, said: “The fact that one’s grandfather was a prominent figure worthy of serving in the chamber does not make his grandson equally worthy, nor does it legitimise the latter’s influence on matters of public interest.”

A House of Lords spokesman said the Chamber was a “highly effective and busy Chamber, performing a vital role of improving legislation and holding the Government to account.”

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