Lazy peers of the House of Lords should be expelled, say MPs

Posted on 21 October 2013 (Permalink)

The below article was originally published in The Information Daily

Lazy peers of the House of Lords should be expelled, say MPs

Peers of the House of Lords who persistently fail to engage in the work of the House should be struck off, a group of MPs has said.

The Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, in a report published today, propose a number of reforms of the second unelected chamber, including the expulsion of peers who have been convicted of a serious offence. The group of MPs also call for the introduction of fixed-term appointments for peers and the creation of a statutory Appointments Commission.

“As we all know, reform of the House of Lords is a large and thorny issue on which it has proved very difficult to get political consensus", said chair of the committee, Graham Allen MP.

"This inquiry focused on the incremental changes that could possibly be achieved outside the wider reforms that are doubtless required".

Members of the House of Commons who receive custodial sentences of more than 12 months are disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1981, yet no such provision exists in relation the House of Lords.

"Creating the power to remove Peers who have actually broken the law of the land—and to remove persistent non-attendees—will enjoy widespread support and would indicate that the unelected chamber was not opposed to sensible reform", said Allen.

There have been calls for a long term moratorium on new peers and the introduction of a compulsory retirement age in order to reduce the size of the chamber.

However, the committee argues that a moratorium would be ineffective and would starve the house of valuable expertise, whilst a compulsory retirement age would be arbitrary and discriminatory.

Instead, the committee calls for the strengthening of the existing voluntary retirement scheme which would make it more attractive for peers.

The report also urges for hereditary peers not be replaced as this would reduce the reputational risk which results from the current by-election system.

Allen concluded: "We call upon the Government and political parties in the Lords to set out their positions on this matter and to engage in dialogue that will establish a consensus before the next general election, so that both Houses can act upon an agreed reform".