Reducing number of Lords ‘not a priority’, claims Government

05 March 2019

In its response to the Committee’s report on reducing the size of the House of Lords the Government indicates that reducing and capping the number of Lords to 600 members is not a priority ahead of the next general election.

Reforms to the House of Lords unlikely to be implemented in this Parliament

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) published its report 'A Smaller House of Lords' in November, recommending that the Government reduce and cap the number of Lords to 600 as a matter of urgency – based on the recommendation made in the Burns report on the size of the upper chamber. In its response to the Committee, the Government indicates that despite agreeing in principal with reducing the size of the Lords, it is not a priority in this Parliament. 

The Committee has also published correspondence between the Chair, Sir Bernard Jenkin MP, and Minister for the Constitution, Chloe Smith MP, in which Sir Bernard requests further detail from the Government on this matter, including asking the Government to outline the criteria being used to ensure its commitment that appointments of the Lords are made “fairly”. 

The Chair’s letter stresses the committee’s view that the Burns Report proposals represent a “minimal incremental reform” of House of Lords and “remains a vital and pressing issue that needs to be addressed.” It is therefore puzzling that The Minister’s response to this suggests that such reform is “radical” and “longer-term reform”. 

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