A Brief History of Liberty

Liberal, Lover, Scientist

How about a proportionally appointed House of Lords?

Paragraph three, page 27 of the 2010 Coalition Agreement document says:

Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

I understand that the introduction of public elections for the House of Lords has been abandoned by the Government after the antics of the Conservative backbench, but there’s no reason that this particular part of the Coalition Agreement should not be implemented. In fact, if the House of Lords is set to remain as it is for the foreseeable future, all the more reason to introduce the proportionality that both Coalition parties support.

Currently, the make-up of the House of Lords by political group looks like this:

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And if you exclude the (hopefully) apolitical Crossbench, it looks more like this:

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Notice that the Liberal Democrats and other parties are under represented if you compare to the General Election 2010 results, at the expense of Labour, whose presence in the House of Lords is absurdly out of proportion. Here is how the country voted in 2010:

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Now, I’ll assume that no Lords or Ladies are to have their peerages removed and instead, new peers must be appointed to bring in proportionality. I’ll also assume that the proportion of Crossbenchers to non Crossbenchers is to remain the same, so new Crossbenchers must be appointed also. With all of the three main parties and all smaller parties given representation relative to each other based on their GE 2010 performance, and the same proportion of Crossbenchers, the new House of Lords will look like this:

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This would be a tremendous improvement on the current proportions in the House of Lords, pleasing to both Coalition parties, presumably acceptable to the Crossbench and smaller parties (except perhaps those which would decline the offer to sit in the House of Lords, such as the SNP and Sinn Fein). Have you spotted the biggest flaw in this plan? With a current membership of 758, the House of Lords is already overpopulated. My proposal for a proportional chamber would increase the membership to a mighty 1,004 peers. Presumably some structural changes would need to be made to the chamber.

Despite the population issue, both Coalition parties have a duty to press ahead with this, as per the Coalition Agreement, and it would be in the interests of the membership of both, particularly the Liberal Democrats, to agitate for this improvement.