House of Lords looks like a ‘Westminster private members' club’, says pressure group
The House of Lords is increasingly looking like a ‘private members' club’ according to a political pressure group.
The Electoral Reform Society launched the scathing attack on the upper chamber after its analysis showed a majority of peers whose residence is known live in either Greater London, the south east or the east of England.
The group blasted the Lords for failing to properly represent the country after finding that only 5% of peers lived in the north west, despite 11% of the population residing there.
Chief executive Darren Hughes said the figures revealed an “appalling centralisation” and proved that the “London-dominated house totally fails to represent huge swathes” of the country.
“Regions including the north west and the Midlands are not only under-represented, but those peers who say they live there do not represent each region’s diversity, whether in terms of their politics or otherwise.”
The Electoral Reform Society also hit out at the over-representation of those who have held political roles in the upper chamber, saying it increasingly looked like “just another Westminster private member’s club.”
The figures showed that of 816 peers there were 235 former politicians, 68 political staffers, and 13 civil servants.
“When the PM can stuff a so-called scrutiny chamber with whoever they want, the result is that it fails to reflect the nation”, Mr Hughes added.
“That won’t be solved by bunging in a few more unelected cronies. Instead, a fairly elected chamber of the regions would ensure guaranteed, proportional representation and a strong voice for all parts of the UK.”
His comments come ahead of a debate on a petition later day where MPs will be asked to vote on whether to allow a UK wide referendum to abolish the upper house.
Responding to the study, a spokesperson for the House of Lords said: “Members of the House of Lords come from across the UK, but are not representatives of geographical areas...
“Members are appointed by virtue of their experience and represent nearly every profession including law, nursing, teaching, defence, engineering, music, television, and politics.
“No other senate in the world has such diverse members, or as broad a range of expertise. All members use their wealth of experience to debate crucial issues, and hold the Government to account.”