Number of peers should be slashed to 600, says House of Lords report

Posted On: 
31st October 2017

The number of peers sitting in the House of Lords should be cut by a quarter to 600, according to a landmark report.

Lord Fowler said: "With over 800 members – about 150 more than the Commons – we are too large"
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Parties would also be banned from having an overall majority in the upper chamber, while one-fifth of seats would be reserved for independent crossbench peers.

New peers would be limited to 15-year terms as part of the proposals, while the make-up of the Lords would be more closely linked to general election results.

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There are more than 800 peers at the moment, and according to the report by the Lords Speaker's Committee, the total will reach 1,000 unless the suggested reforms are carried out.

Introducing a 'two in one out' system should be introduced to bring down the number to the new 600 limit within a decade, the report said.

Under the plan the Conservatives would lose 48 peers, Labour would lose 38 and the Liberal Democrats would lose 35.

Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker, said: "The House of Lords carries out vitally important work in holding the government of the day to account. However with over 800 members – about 150 more than the Commons – we are too large. The time has now come to take action to correct this and put a cap on numbers for the future.

"This report presents the Lords with an important opportunity. A smaller, more effective house will be able to build public confidence and support for its crucial constitutional role in checking bills before they become law and in reviewing policy through their hard working select committees.

"I should emphasise that if the system the committee proposes is to succeed it will require political agreement from the main parties and of course the Prime Minister herself."

Lord Burns, the chair of the Lords Speaker's Committee, said he hoped the Prime Minister, other party leaders and fellow peers would “seize this realistic opportunity to tackle a problem which has defied resolution for so long”.

A Labour Lords spokesperson welcomed the "serious and thoughtful" report and urged the Government to respond positively.