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Tue, 29 September 2020

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Number 10 says size of the Lords ‘needs addressing’ after nominating 36 more people for peerages

Number 10 says size of the Lords ‘needs addressing’ after nominating 36 more people for peerages

The Prime Minister’s brother Jo is among those set to be handed a peerage. (PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson still believes the size of the House of Lords “needs addressing” despite nominating 36 more people including his own brother for a seat there.

Number 10 said the latest nods for a peerage would help “ensure the Lords has appropriate expertise” amid anger from democratic reform campaigners over the latest slew of nominations.

Tory party donor Michael Spicer, former party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin and Mr Johnson's own senior adviser, Eddie Lister, are among those set to enter the House of Lords.

The Prime Minister’s brother Jo Johnson, who resigned from the Commons last year over opposition to his brother's Brexit plans, is also set to become a Conservative peer.

And a host of senior Brexiteers, including former Labour MP and Vote Leave supporter Kate Hoey, ex-Brexit Party MEP Claire Fox and newspaper columnist Charles Moore have also been put forward for peerages, a list published on Friday showed.

Longstanding Jeremy Corbyn ally Katy Clark and trade unionist Bryn Davies were meanwhile nominated for seats in the Lords by the ex-Labour leader.

The move has been attacked by the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats, while Lord Fowler, the House of Lords Speaker, this weekend branded it “ridiculous” and said the upper chamber did not need 830 members.

“What you are doing is encouraging some in the House of Lords who are quite frankly passengers and don’t make much effort in any event,” he told the BBC.

The Conservative manifesto says the Government will look at “the role of the House of Lords” and Number 10 was on Monday pressed on whether the Government had abandoned plans to reduce the size of the upper chamber to bring it in line with the 650-strong House of Commons.

“It remains the case that the size of the House of Lords needs addressing,” the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said.

“But given retirements and other departures some new members are needed to ensure the Lords has appropriate expertise and it continues to fulfil its role in scrutinising and revising legislation.”

Asked why Mr Johnson had announced a dissolution honours list that included more peerage nominations than any other in recent memory, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “It’s a longstanding convention that individuals can be nominated for an honour or peerage in recognition of their public and political service and that prime ministers will draw up a dissolution and resignation list.”

But Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:“At over 800 members, this bloated chamber is making a mockery of democracy. 

“If the Lords are to have any credibility, they must now put their apparent anger into action and propose legislation to finally introduce some accountability into the unelected house. Otherwise, all notions of ‘independence’ in this anachronistic chamber will have been completely shattered.”

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