House of Lords 600 limit urged to be written in law after Boris Johnson’s appointments

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Now a committee has recommended that proposals to limit the size of the House of Lords should be written into law. The recommendation comes after Mr Johnson swelled the total number of peers in the House of Lords to more than 830 in January. This number greatly exceeds the total number of sitting MPs in the House of Commons, which stands at 650.

Claims of “cronyism” have been levelled at Mr Johnson who has opted to fill up the House of Lords, going against recommendations made to his predecessor, Theresa May.

Mrs May had supported a plan to limit the number of members of the House of Lords to 600 members.

But the plans to reduce the size of the House of Lords have now been thwarted by Prime Minister Johnson.

The Lord Speaker’s Committee on the Size of the House had previously suggested having a “two out, one in” system.

The committee also called for 15-year fixed term limits to be introduced.

They also have sought ways to make membership of the House of Lords more democratic, with political appointments to be linked to election results.

However, committee chairman Lord Burns said it was evident that a “voluntary approach is no longer working”.

His remarks are in light of Mr Johnson’s efforts to take membership beyond the 800-mark.

The committee said that the voluntary approach “was too vulnerable to political events”.

A spokeswoman for the committee said: “They have advised that the priority is to implement a binding cap.

“This would achieve a much faster reduction to 600 members than originally planned.

“For the first time, the committee also recommended that hereditary peer by-elections should be stopped.


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“The committee highlighted that this can only be achieved through legislation.”

Lord Burns added: “The House of Lords is anomalous among legislatures in having no limit on its size, and until we put that right there is nothing to prevent it continuing to grow.

“Our committee set out some practical solutions to reduce its size to 600 and keep it there, which were supported by the House in 2017.

“The prime minister at the time, Theresa May, also signalled a desire to reduce the size of the House and adopted the committee’s recommendation that she should act with restraint in the number of new members she appointed.

“However, the evidence shows that a voluntary approach is no longer working and any progress that has been made is being undone by too many appointments.

“A new approach is therefore required if we are to make serious progress in this area.”

Lord McFall, Lord Fowler’s successor as Lord Speaker, said: “Lord Burns and his committee have done important work and have proposed practical solutions to address the size of the House and as Lord Speaker, I plan to raise these issues at the highest level.

“Now is the time to redouble our efforts and accelerate progress, not to give up.

“Ultimately, a smaller and more effective House will be of greater benefit to the public we are here to serve.”

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