SNP renew calls to scrap House of Lords over '˜chummy' appointments

The Scottish National Party has repeated calls for the abolition of the House of Lords as figures showed that 22 new peers were created in 2018.
Tommy Sheppard has increased calls for the end to political  Lords appointmentsTommy Sheppard has increased calls for the end to political  Lords appointments
Tommy Sheppard has increased calls for the end to political Lords appointments

Spokesman Tommy Sheppard said it was “inexcusable” that successive governments had continued to make “chummy political appointments” to the Upper House of Parliament, at an annual cost to the taxpayer of £83,000 per peer.

But a spokesman for the House of Lords said the overall number of members had in fact fallen by 10 over the course of the year to 790 and was on track to meet a target of 600.

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He said that the £83,000 figure was “misleading”, as it represented the total Lords budget divided by the number of members, rather than reflecting the cost of each individual peer to taxpayers.

The 22 new members of the Lords in 2018 included nine Conservatives, six crossbenchers, three from Labour and one from the Democratic Unionist Party as well as three bishops. The SNP do not take seats in the House of Lords on principle.

Mr Sheppard said: “The idea of an unelected legislature in the 21st century is ridiculous enough, but for successive governments to continue to pile the Lords chamber full of chummy political appointments is inexcusable.

“The argument to consign this archaic and undemocratic chamber of political has-beens to the dustbin of history is long overdue.

“Last year, figures showed that each peer costs the taxpayer £83,000 per year and since then, no less than 22 Lords have been stuffed into the House.

“Whilst many households and families across the UK spend the festive season worrying how to pay their food and fuel bills, unelected peers enjoy a £300 tax-free daily allowance for as little as 45 minutes’ attendance.

“The SNP will continue to press the UK Government to chuck the donors and cronies because, for taxpayers as well as democrats, the sooner this unaccountable financial drain is abolished, the better.”

The House of Lords spokesman said: “These figures make no mention of the fact that in the same period 32 members left the House of Lords, so the House is actually smaller by 10 than it was at the start of the year.

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“This reflects the recommendations of the Lord Speaker’s Committee on the Size of the House that proposed a reduction in the number of members each year to meet a target size of 600 members.

“The current rate of departures means the House is on track to meet that objective.

“The ‘cost per peer’ quoted by Mr Sheppard is misleading, as it is reached by simply dividing the overall budget of the House of Lords, which includes fixed costs such a security, IT infrastructure and the maintenance of the building, by the number of members.

“This calculation does not reflect the cost of individual members of the House.”