To many of us, the House of Lords looks very much like a private members’ club – a cosy corner of Westminster, where unelected peers vote on our laws.
But just how out of touch it is with modern Britain has now been revealed.
New research released this week shows most peers live in London and the surrounding areas.
The figures are released in a briefing published ahead of a Parliamentary debate this week, which will see MPs discuss a 170,000-strong e-petition to scrap the Lords.
The analysis – which has been widely covered in the press – 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.
Of those peers whose residence is known, a staggering 25% (142) live in Greater London, despite the region accounting for just 13% of the population.
Yet the East Midlands, West Midlands and North West are all highly under-represented – with just 5% of peers listed claiming they live in the North West, compared to 11% of the public.
And new data on the backgrounds of all 816 peers has revealed that almost 39% previously worked in politics.
Just one peer’s main background (Baroness Blood) is in manual or skilled work. That’s half the number who worked as royal family staff.
The figures show the Lords is made up of 235 former politicians, 68 political staffers and 13 civil servants.
Other common professional backgrounds include business and commerce (70 peers), legal professions (55 peers), and banking and finance (49 peers.)
Among other poorly represented professions are transport (three peers) and education and training (five peers, excluding higher education).
Worryingly, representative politics has seen the biggest rise in the past three years – with 15 more peers having worked in the area.
Meanwhile nine fewer peers come from a background in higher education. This suggests the Lords is getting even more out of touch with Britain – not less.
We have a London-dominated house that 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.
When the PM can stuff a so-called scrutiny chamber with whoever they want, the result is that it fails to reflect the nation.
This problem 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.
Let’s hope this week’s debate gets that ball rolling again.
Read the ERS’ new research on the House of Lords here