Mon, 5 June 2023

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By Baroness Hoey
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EXCL Lord Speaker calls for ban on new peers in bid to cut size of upper chamber

EXCL Lord Speaker calls for ban on new peers in bid to cut size of upper chamber
2 min read

The Lord Speaker has called for a ban on the appointment of new peers in an attempt to bring down the size of the upper chamber.

Lord Fowler said the "effective moratorium" was necessary to stop the size of the House of Lords ballooning any further.

Boris Johnson has already appointed two former Tory MPs to the Lords - Nicky Morgan and Zac Goldsmith - this year, with more expected to be announced when the dissolution honours list is published.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has reportedly nominated eight peers on the same list, including John Bercow and his chief of staff, Karie Murphy.

But writing for The House, Lord Fowler said he believed they should be the last new peers appointed until the size of the House of Lords is brought under control.

He said: "It is both unsustainable and unfair for peers to retire, only to find that they are immediately replaced by a Prime Minister who appoints more than the number who have departed.

"The dissolution honours are now all but water under the bridge but after that, I would advocate an effective moratorium on new appointments until the commission has completed its work.

"There can be a few exceptions, such as front bench appointment, but the general approach should be one of reduction, not increase."

Nearly two years ago, the Burns Report recommended cutting the membership of the House of Lords from around 800 to a maximum of 600 peers.

Lord Fowler added: "There is an argument to be made for a House of 500. But to achieve either of these totals we would need the whole-hearted co-operation of the Government."

Elsewhere in his article, the former Tory Cabinet minister also says the House of Lords Appointments Commission - which vets prospective peers - should be allowed to check whether they are up to the job before they are ennobled.

He said: "This is not a plea for full-time peers, but it is a plea for new members to understand the obligations they are taking on and the need to make some meaningful contribution.

"The obvious solution is for the powers of the Appointments Commission to be widened for all prospective peers; all candidates should be required to satisfy the Commission that they both know what is involved and that they intend to make a contribution.

"Frankly, that is the very least that can be expected for members of an appointed House which is part of the national legislature where members make laws and check the Government’s legislative proposals – always remembering that it is the elected MPs who are the final arbiters."

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