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 It’s time for radical change of this outdated and unaccountable institution.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.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.