POLITICS
18/06/2018 00:01 BST | Updated 18/06/2018 10:29 BST

House Of Lords 'Totally Failing' To Represent UK Regions, Report Finds

Most peers live in and around London.

PA Wire/PA Images

The House of Lords is “totally failing” to represent UK regions, with most peers living in and around London, according to a new report. 

The Electoral Reform Society has released new analysis as MPs prepare to debate a petition calling for the abolition of the upper chamber - signed by 170,000 supporters. 

It shows that of the 564 peers whose place of residence is known, 306 (54%) live in either Greater London, the South East or the East of England, with 25% living in the capital itself.

The East Midlands, West Midlands and North West are all under-represented, with just 5% of peers living in the North West, compared to 11% of the public.

Electoral Reform Society chief executive Darren Hughes said: “These figures reveal the appalling centralisation of Parliament’s second chamber. This London-dominated house totally fails to represent huge swathes of the UK.

“Regions including the North West and the Midlands are not only under-represented, but those peers who say they live there do not represent each region’s diversity – whether in terms of their politics or otherwise.

“The Lords is looking increasingly like just another Westminster private members’ club – and it’s not hard to see why when the system is so unbalanced.”

Electoral reform society
Representation in the Lords broken down by region.

Just one peer - former trade unionist Baroness Blood - has a background in manual work, having been an employee at a linen mill, while 39% have previously worked in politics.

In total there are 235 former politicians, 68 political staffers and 13 civil servants on the red benches and despite attempts to diversify the chamber, numbers are on the rise.

In 2015 there were 220 ex-politicians, but the number increased to 235 after the last round of new introductions were announced - now accounting for 29% of the total.

Other common professional backgrounds include business and commerce (70 peers), legal professions (55 peers), and banking and finance (49 peers).

There are also more than 30 ex-journalists and dozens of former trade unionists.

Hughes, who spearheads a campaign for the Lords to be completely reformed with the introduction of elected peers, added: “Adding to the detachment between the House of Lords and UK citizens is the fact that so many peers are former politicians.

“When the PM can stuff a so-called scrutiny chamber with whoever they want, the result is that it fails to reflect the nation.

“That won’t be solved by bunging in a few more unelected cronies. Instead, a fairly-elected chamber of the regions would ensure guaranteed, proportional representation and a strong voice for all parts of the UK.”

Theresa May shelved plans for Lords reform earlier this year - despite Parliament’s Lord Speaker’s Committee putting together a 40-page report on how the chamber could be cut down without the need to pass new laws.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to abolish the “undemocratic anachronism” completely should the party win the next election, replacing it with a fully elected second chamber. 

A House of Lords spokesperson said: “Members of the House of Lords come from across the UK, but are not representatives of geographical areas.

“Members are appointed by virtue of their experience and represent nearly every profession including law, nursing, teaching, defence, engineering, music, television, and politics.

“No other senate in the world has such diverse members, or as broad a range of expertise. All members use their wealth of experience to debate crucial issues, and hold the government to account.”