Lords totally fails to represent UK, says Electoral Reform Society

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The House of Lords totally fails to represent swathes of the UK as a high proportion of peers are from London, the south east and east, the head of the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has said.

Darren Hughes, chief executive of the ERS, criticised the “appalling centralisation” of Parliament’s second chamber, saying it is increasingly like another Westminster private members’ club.

ERS analysis of the membership of the Lords found 54% of the 564 peers whose residence is known live in either Greater London, the south east or the east of England.

It showed that 5% of peers said they live in the north west – where 11% of the population reside, according to the campaign organisation.

The figures also showed that out of 816 peers, there were 235 former politicians, 68 political staffers and 13 civil servants.

On Monday, MPs will debate a petition in Westminster Hall calling for a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords.

Mr 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.

“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.”

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.”

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