Two thirds of voters want an elected House of Lords, says new poll

63 per cent of people want the Lords to be democratically elected whilst 27 per cent would like to see it abolished altogether.

New figures show nearly two thirds of people now want significant reform of the Lords. It’s time for radical change of this outdated and unaccountable institution.

Nearly two-thirds of people — 63 per cent — want members of the House of Lords to be elected, up from just under 50 per cent two years ago, a poll released today showed.

Support for this fundamental reform of the Lords has surged over the past two years following a string of scandals, increasing from 48 per cent in 2015 to 63 per cent today.

In one example among many, it was revealed in September that dozens of Lords claimed tens of millions of pounds in expenses last year whilst showing up to speak or vote only a handful of times.

The polling, carried out by BMG Research on behalf of the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) also found that 27 per cent of people thought the Lords should be completely abolished, up from 22 per cent from two years ago.

The polling also found that:

  • 44% of people feel Parliament does not ‘understand or represent the concerns of people like me’, compared to 30% who agree.
  • Just 22% of working-class / DE voters believe Parliament represents them, compared to 39% of wealthier AB voters.
  • Just 18% of social housing tenants believe Parliament represents them – compared to 39% of outright home-owners.

The findings are released just before the House of Lords publishes a report which is expected to announce minor changes in how the upper chamber operates, such as 15 year term limit on new peers.

But the ERS has slammed the recommendations a ‘cheap compromise’ and ‘mere tinkering’ — going on to criticise the committee for not challenging the fundamentally undemocratic process of how members are admitted to the Lords.

Darren Hughes, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: “support for an elected upper house has soared by a third in just two years shows the scale of public discontent. Britain is tired of couch potato peers taking our democracy for granted,” he went on:

“To the public – and indeed to some Lords – the upper chamber is a private members’ club, rather than an essential revising chamber… peers know they can get away with it because there is simply no accountability.”

Hughes continued: “we have no way of kicking out lazy Lords and demanding the scrutiny our laws need… What we need is a much smaller, fairly-elected upper house that the public can have faith in – and where voters can hold ineffective peers to account.”

ERS research analysed by Left Foot Forward in September revealed just how unaccountable and wasteful the House of Lords has become.

Between April 2016 and March 2017, for example, the average peer claimed over £25,000 tax-free in expenses: a rise of over 20% from the same period in 2014/15.

Over half of peers made 10 or fewer spoken contributions for the entire 2016/17 Parliamentary session. Yet these members claimed over £7.3m in expenses and over a third of peers spoke five times or fewer in the past year and yet still charged the taxpayer over £4.1m in expenses.

It’s time to reform this outdated and frankly embarrassing relic of Britain’s past.

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3 Responses to “Two thirds of voters want an elected House of Lords, says new poll”

  1. Dulari-Leiylah Markelke

    This reform of elected lord’s is crucial tories are intending to repack the lord’s with hard brexit tory peers. Whatever it takes we must push for an elected lords

  2. nhsgp

    95% want it abolished.

  3. David Lindsay

    Cut the House of Lords to around 600, you say? Well, with a six-year term (making it possible to bring that of the Commons down to four years), with the powers of the present House of Lords, and with remuneration fixed at that of the Commons, each of the 99 lieutenancy areas might elect six Senators, with each of us voting for one candidate, and with the top six elected at the end.

    In each area, the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats would be required, and other parties would be permitted, to submit their shortlists of two to a binding, publicly funded ballot of the whole electorate two weeks before the Senate Election itself. Casual vacancies would be filled by the party for which the previous Senator had been elected. Where the previous Senator was a Crossbencher, for by all means let that term be retained, then there would be a by-election using First Past the Post.

    594 Senators does sound a lot. But the 100-member Senate of the United States certainly costs more in absolute terms than this would, and probably costs more per capita. The same is no doubt true when that chamber is compared to the House of Lords. Citizens need access both to their own parliamentary representatives with the ear of the Government, and to those engaged in robust Opposition. This is how to do it.

    Plus, although I am less sure about this one, there may yet be a role for intellectual and ideological, rather than for biological, heredity. At the first ever Senate Elections, but never thereafter, let each of us, with the whole country as the electoral area, vote for one candidate, and let the 100 highest scorers be elected, complete with the right to name an heir, who would in turn be required to name a spare. That heir would not necessarily or even ordinarily be a blood relative, but rather, on political grounds, a dauphin or delfino.

    How might we go about this? Perhaps, recalling how elected hereditary peers had been chosen, each of us might vote for someone who was at that moment a member of the Conservative Party, a member of the Labour Party, a member of the Liberal Democrats, a member of another party, and a member of no party, with the top 20 of each elected? Or perhaps a simple Hundredth Past the Post election might suffice?

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