SNP and Liberal Democrats demand Lords reform after Sewel case
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said there should be a programme of “abolition and reform”, while the SNP is calling for the second chamber to be scrapped altogether.
Lord Sewel resigned from the House after the Sun newspaper released footage allegedly showing him snorting cocaine in the company of two prostitutes.
David Cameron today rejected calls for an overhaul of the second chamber.
“I regret the fact that we didn’t achieve House of Lords reform in the last parliament, but it’s quite clear to me that there’s no point trying that route again,” he said in Singapore.
He also said he would appoint more Conservative peers to make sure the House of Lords, where Labour and Lib Dem peers outnumber the Tories, “more accurately reflects the situation in the House of Commons”.
But Tim Farron has written to party leaders in both chambers to argue there should be a constitutional convention to change the existing “rotten to the core” system.
“This is not just about one bad apple, it’s about a system which is rotten to the core and allows unelected, unaccountable people to think they are above the law,” Mr Farron said.
“It is yet another sorry reflection of an undemocratic system, and more than ever highlights the Liberal Democrat case for reform. Even the best politicians must be accountable to the public, and the current system of lifetime appointments means that doesn’t happen.”
He added: “Nothing will be achieved until Parliamentarians vote in favour of abolition and reform, something Lib Dems are committed to doing.”
And the SNP, which does not take up seats in the House of Lords, has gone further, calling for it to be abolished altogether.
SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “The House of Lords has never been held in such contempt by the Scottish people who see it as nothing other than a repository for the cronies and donors of the UK parties. With its Lords, Ladies, Baronets and Earls it can only be described as the most absurd and ridiculous legislature anywhere in the world...
“The current House of Lords is beyond reform and it must now be cleared out and reconstituted on firm democratic principles... The public are growing angrier by the day by the antics of those who inhabit this gold plated, red-upholstered Narnia...
“Action is needed and it is needed now. The House of Lords is a relic that can no longer be afforded in a modern democracy and it is now time for it to go."