House of Lords should be cut to 600 peers, recommends Burns report

Written by Tom Freeman on 31 October 2017 in News

Lord Speaker's Committee recommends cutting the number of peers and limiting the length of terms in landmark report

House of Lords - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The number of peers in the House of Lords should be cut to 600 and terms restricted to 15-year terms, according to the latest review of the UK’s upper house.

The proposals come from the Lord Speaker's Committee report on the size of the House of Lords, which also suggested political parties work to targets so the numbers of peers more closely resemble general election results.

A fifth of seats would be reserved for independent crossbench peers under the plans.


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This year the number of members of the House of Lords reached over 800, including 26 bishops and 90 hereditary peers elected among themselves.

Lord Burns, the crossbench 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”.

Professor Meg Russell, director of the UCL's Constitution Unit, said the proposals could succeed where previous attempts to reform the unelected House of Lords have failed.

“It’s easy to snipe at proposals such as these for being under ambitious, but the point is they are realistic,” she said.

“Those wanting more radical change must acknowledge that this hasn't happened yet, and isn't likely to happen any time soon. Those who are serious about the need to strengthen parliament, and cut the cost of politics, should welcome these proposals.”

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the proposal was “too little too late” to give the Lords credibility.

"I welcome the plan to reduce the size of the chamber – and to start looking at term limits,” he said.

“However it misses the central objection of the way the upper house is made up – its members are accountable to absolutely nobody.”

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