MPs call for number of peers to be slashed and size of House of Lords capped ‘without delay’
The House of Lords should begin the process of reducing its size and capping the total number of peers as a matter of urgency, MPs have said.
The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said the Upper House should make headway on the Burns Report’s proposal to take the number of peers down by 200 over 11 years.
The committee backed capping the number at 600, as recommended, and a 15-year term introduced for new peers.
The group, who also supported the ‘two-out one-in’ principle to cut back on members, said the growing size was affecting the Chamber’s ability to function effectively.
Chair of the Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin, said: “The Burns report presents an opportunity to take the most obvious next step in the evolution of the House of Lords.
“The House of Lords is of vital importance to the UK’s political system, carrying out important scrutiny and revising functions, but it is a problem that the size of the Chamber continues to grow exponentially.
“My Committee is calling for the number of peers to be reduced, and then capped, at 600, as recommended in the Burns report.
“This is an urgent window of opportunity and the Government and other party leaders must seize this moment of consensus to ensure that the number of peers is reduced to 600 over the years ahead.”
The committee also recommended the creation of a body to justify new appointments, which would be relative to parties’ vote share at the last general election.
However Sir Bernard added that a new 15-year term for newly appointed peers was “a desirable but not essential part” of the recommended reform.
He continued: “The introduction of 15-year term limits for new life peers is perhaps the most radical element of the scheme and it will immediately create two classes of peer with all existing peers remaining appointed for life, and all new peers for a fixed term.
“There are members of both houses who have been highly effective parliamentarians for far longer than 15 years and this fixed term could remove peers at the peak of their effectiveness.”