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Lords Want To Retire From Parliament, But They Aren't Allowed

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I'm a member of the House of Lords, get me out of here! Peers will vote on a motion today that would urge the government to allow them to quit, or expel others, from the chamber. Something they currently are unable to formally do.

The failure of Nick Clegg's plan to introduce an elected House means party leaders remain free to continually plonk new appointees onto the red benches. But the door only opens one way.

As part of the coalition agreement Clegg and David Cameron plan to carry on appointing new peers in order to make the House reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

There are currently 760 members of the House of Lords, not including those on a leave of absence or disqualified for being part of the senior judiciary. Barring deaths, this number can only increase.

Lib Dem peer Lord Steel, who has been pushing a Bill designed to allow peers to resign as well as for the House to expel members convicted of criminal offences, says peers need "an exit strategy as well as an entrance strategy"

"The numbers are going to increase at every election, there is no mechanism to get rid of people at the end of every parliament," he said.

"We in the House ought to be able to draw up a scheme to enable people to leave. The government line at the moment is that having just had bloody nose over House of Lords reform they aren't interested."

Ministers have so far resisted the change, particularly Lord Steel's suggestion peers be given an incentive of a £30,000 pay-off to leave.

Last year the then leader of the Lords, Lord Strathcylde, said there was "no prospect of any public money being made available for peers wishing to retire from the House".

As well as stretching resources (where to find the office space?) the current situation also subjects the House to the awkwardness of having to welcome expenses cheats such as Baroness Uddin and Lord Hanningfield back into the the fold.

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