Meet the Lords

'Meet the Lords' documentary lays bare 'astonishing and scandalous' situation in upper chamber, say campaigners

21st February 2017
21 Feb 2017
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Meet the Lords
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BBC Meet the Lords

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Statement  from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 21st February 2017

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, email/call Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630


Commenting on revelations [1] from the BBC’s ‘Meet the Lords’ series, which will be shown next Monday, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

We already knew some Peers claim their £300 without speaking or voting, but to hear this from the former Lords speaker herself is astonishing and shows just how severe this problem really is. Baroness D’Souza has exposed a truly scandalous situation.

“Since they’re unelected, there is essentially no way to get rid of Peers who do this. The public are sick to death of the kind of behaviour that ‘Meet the Lords’ highlights.

“Our research at the end of 2015 showed that £1.3m was claimed by 64 Peers in the 2014/15 financial period who failed to speak in that year [2]. And Peers who failed to take part in any votes from 2010-2015 claimed £360,000 back from the taxpayer [3]. The situation with the Lords is spiralling out of control, both in terms of size and cost.

“Rather than spending thousands on Peers who fail to even speak up in Parliament, we need a fairly-elected upper House. That call is only likely to grow after this series looks set to lay bare some of the outrageous abuses of privilege in the upper chamber.

“It’s completely unacceptable that Peers can claim thousands without even speaking or voting in the House, and it highlights the reality that there is no accountability for Peers – the public can’t kick them out if they fail to serve the interests of citizens. Let’s fix this broken House before the situation gets any worse.

“This documentary also highlights the farce that is the hereditary peerage system. The practice of holding so-called ‘by-elections’ for hereditary Peers – with only aristocrats able to vote and stand – is an embarrassment to our politics. Some of these by-elections have had an electorate of three or less, which makes a mockery of the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’. Scrapping the hereditary peer system would be a start in the process of clearing out our out-dated upper house and the cutting the second largest chamber on Earth (after the People’s Republic of China) down to size.

“This documentary provides yet more evidence that we urgently need to sort out the House of Lords, and move to a fully-elected chamber where the people who make our laws are elected by the public - and can be kicked out by the public.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, email/call Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk / 07717211630

Notes to Editors

[1] They include the claim from former Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza that a Peer left a taxi waiting outside ­Parliament while he went inside to register for his daily allowance. D’Souza claimed the lord was one of “many, many, many who contribute absolutely nothing, but who claim the full allowance”.

[2] https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/press_release/file/House%20of%20Lords%20Research%20PR%20JM%207th%20Sept%202015.pdf

[3] http://news.sky.com/story/peers-claimed-163360k-without-voting-in-lords-10349255

Read the ERS’ ‘Fact vs Fiction’ report on the House of Lords https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/publication/House-of-Lords-Fact-Vs-Fiction-Report.pdf