The Lord Speaker Lord Fowler has released a barnstorming statement, criticising the Prime Minister for having appointed a whopping 52 new peers in one year. Boris’s new appointments will take the House of Lords to over 830 members, almost 200 more than the Commons and well over the 600 number recommended by the Burns committee. Fowler is not happy…
Lord Fowler went on to say it added “insult to injury” to make these appointments when the House was not sitting. Read his fiery statement in full below:
My response to the announcement today that Downing Street has appointed 16 new peers to the House of Lords:
My fundamental concern is about the number of new peers that have been appointed by the Prime Minister in his first 12 months in Office.
Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists. This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.
I will not comment on the personalities involved, although perhaps I could personally welcome John Sentamu. But my concern remains that the central defect is the present system of appointments.
Unlike other senates in democratic countries, there is no limit on the number of members there can be. Any Prime Minister can appoint as many as he or she likes. To her great credit the previous Prime Minister, Theresa May, committed her govt to a policy of ‘moderation.’
In a massive U-turn, those words seem to have been forgotten. It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC.)
The number of appointments now being made also run smack against the recommendations of the Burns committee on the size of the House that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Lords. The committee recommended that numbers should be reduced to 600.
To add insult to injury, for the second time the announcement of new peers has been made when Parliament is not sitting.
Sometimes the Lords itself is blamed for a failure to change. My answer to that is- don’t blame the Lords, blame successive governments who have avoided the subject.
The reply has been that change is ‘not a priority’. It is possible that with the last two lists, the public may now disagree.