A newly released report from the Electoral Reform Society, “The High Cost of Small Change: The House of Lords Audit” brings to light some key problems of Britain’s upper-chamber and the attitudes Brits have towards it.
1. Support for an elected Lords is rising
Polling by BMG for the Electoral Reform Society’s report suggests that 64% of Britons want an elected House of Lords whether that be partly-elected or fully elected. The polling indicates that support for such an outcome has jumped in report in the last two years, with a 2015 poll finding that just 48% of its respondents supported an elected House of Lords.
2. Support for the current set-up exists, but…
The poll for the report also found that of those who opposed removing the chamber, just shy of nine in ten said numbers should be cut to fewer than 600. There is evidently a demand for change in some form or another.
3. £19 million
Almost £20 million is the total figure for Lords’ expenses, which covers spending on travel and the somewhat infamous daily allowance given to the Lords.
Our research shows how many Peers do not contribute to the House – yet still claim thousands in expenses. https://t.co/M0zy1EKMTr— Electoral Reform Society (@electoralreform) November 17, 2017
4. Forty-six non-voters
Of the whopping 779 peers in the chamber, 46 did not vote in the 2016/17 parliamentary session.
5. Three-hundred and eighty-three peers would be ideal
Currently, there are just shy of 800 members in the Lords – making it the second biggest parliamentary body in the world – however, the average number favoured by those polled by BMG for the Electoral Reform Society is less than half of that: 383.
6. The “silent peers”
The report also found that 109 of the peers failed to speak in the chamber in 2016/17 – that’s 14% of the total number in the chamber. The report also found that most of these “silent” peers did not contribute to the workings of the chamber in other ways, such as being members of committees and writing non-written questions.
7. Women in the Lords
Of all 779 peers, just 26% are women, according to the report. The House of Commons is generally criticised for its lack of female representation, but women currently make up 32% of MPs – a record-high level, according to a House of Commons briefing report following June’s snap election. The report came out just before the House of Lords appointed its first ever female Black Rod, as reported by the BBC.
The full House of Lords Audit report by the Electoral Reform Society can be accessed here.