Losing members of the House

Lord Norton

The size of the House of Lords has been exercising observers and peers for some time.  The membership has grown substantially, or rather the active membership has done so.  The current membership is not that much different to what it was in 1948, but the active membership is something in the order of seven to eight times larger.  It will almost certainly grow in size following the general election with new creations. What is overlooked is the loss of some members.

Every year, the House loses some through death.  Since the start of last year, twenty-five have died.  These have included such well known figures as actor and director Richard Attenborough, novelist P. D. James, DUP leader Iain Paisley and, most recently crime-writer, Ruth Rendell.  Less well known, but notable, figures were George Mackie, a wartime fighter pilot (described by one peer, as I recall, as ‘the bravest man I ever met’) and Beryl Platt, a pioneering female engineer.

However, numbers have also been reduced as a result of the provisions of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014, enabling peers to resign from the House.  Already 16 peers have retired or are about to retire under the provisions of the Act.  (You can find the latest list here.)  Most have opted to retire after giving long service and while still active in the House. They include former Law Lord, Tony Lloyd (Lord Lloyd of Berwick), former Home Secretary, David Waddington, and Bill Tenby (Viscount Tenby), grandson of Lloyd George.  In the new Parliament, another provision of the Act – removing from membership those who never attend in a session (as long as the session lasts at least six months) – will take effect and so should remove from membership peers who are inactive.

Although new creations may well exceed the number who are going, at least there is some movement to reduce the size of the House.

6 comments for “Losing members of the House

  1. MilesJSD
    06/05/2015 at 7:14 pm

    Given that “activeness”,
    even ‘though applied ‘minisculely’ as “must attend at least once every six-months”
    is a requirement for Upper House parliamentarians,

    what [if any] minimum “Lifeplace personal efficiency and emulable leadership”
    fit-for-purpose bases, and up-dating courses/refreshers/tests,
    are in place and required of all Peers ?

    For instance
    (1) how up-to-date must Members be maintained and maintain themselves, in Lifeplace abilities and experience
    [as distinct from Workplace skills and successes]
    in such cooperatively life-sustainworthy knowledges and know-hows as
    (a) (i) Spiritually:
    “Anatomy of Spirit” Caroline Myss;
    “Unlocking The Bible” David Pawson;

    (ii) Mindfully:
    “Mindfulness Meditation” Williams [book with CD];
    “6 Thinking Hats” E.de Bono;
    “How To Win Every Argument” Pirie;

    (iii) Bodily:
    “Relaxercise” Bersin, Bersin & Reese;
    “Move Into Life” Baniel;
    “The Thinking Body” Todd;
    “Effort” Laban & Lawrence;
    [further listings of up-to-date individual and mutual wellbeing guidances can be printed out ‘free’ from not-for-profit http://www.lifefresh.co.uk ].

    It is all very well to be in a plumply-paid guaranteed career-path, and “safe” akin to the “protected-witness, judge, or juror” status;
    but a burning issue is that such “coccooning” is increasingly-evidently not best-conducive to either Lifeplace-emulability or Governance-workplace longest-term-affordable-sustainworthiness.

    The Issue therefore is a compound “hot potato” one,
    not simply of “active numbers” in Quantity,
    but more up-to-date deeply both of
    Lifeplace emulable lifestyle abilities, and of
    Workplace & Governance resilient skills and experience.

  2. James Hand
    06/05/2015 at 7:26 pm

    Excluding those currently ineligible, the House (due to such loss of members) is the same size as in March 2014 and smaller than in March 2011 and 2012 (although the average attendance in 13/14 was at its highest level)

    If attendance in 2015/2016 (assuming it lasts over 6 months) follows the same pattern as in 2012, then s.2 could see 10% lose membership (https://theconversation.com/with-a-little-more-work-the-house-of-lords-could-be-a-democratic-institution-27489 (the link in the piece was an editorial addition)).

    Given the current proportions and the polls, there may not need to be too many new appointees to balance Con and Lab (if balance is sought; unless there is a perceived need to water down the LibDem representation). While, UKIP may repeat their call for more, new creations may not exceed the number going (and in Prof Russell’s words ‘stop all this silly nonsense’ (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/generalelection/general-election-2015-house-of-lords-could-swell-to-nearly-1000-if-labour-wins-10221505.html)). There is, of course, the possibility of an interim or permanent re-set mechanism as mentioned, among other places, in the The Conversation piece mentioned above ((https://theconversation.com/with-a-little-more-work-the-house-of-lords-could-be-a-democratic-institution-27489).

  3. Senex
    11/05/2015 at 1:06 pm

    I recall seeing a tee shirt with a slogan that caught my eye. It said “I don’t need Google because my mother-in-law knows everything”. Should Parliaments souvenir shop carry a tee shirt with the slogan “We don’t need Life Peers because Google knows everything”.

  4. Baroness Deech
    Baroness Deech
    03/06/2015 at 12:52 pm

    Surely there will not be dissolution honours? It cannot be right to create any more LibDem peers for years to come, given that they are now overrepresented in the light of the general election results, and that their belief is that all peers should be elected, not appointed. To welcome in more LibDem peers would be rank hypocrisy. And there is no physical room for any more of any party, because newly appointed ones are likely to be active attenders. We are already sitting on the steps, jostling and shouting to be heard, missing opportunities to ask QSDs and sit on committees, having debate times cut to 2 minutes each, no office space, queuing for hours to put down an oral question and so on. There has to be a thinning of the ranks but it is sad that this can only be achieved by death or the retirement of some formidable colleagues.

  5. Dave H
    04/06/2015 at 2:13 am

    The solution is to add some verbiage limiting the number of former MPs who can sit in the chamber at any time. Given that the main justification for the Lords is as a gathering of experts who can make the government’s wishes workable, there doesn’t need to be an excess of political ‘experts’, we need experts in other fields, most of whom have probably never sat in the Commons. The main parties could nominate which of their peers were eligible to participate in each debate and so free up some seating. How each party decides who gets to sit is up to the party.

  6. maude elwes
    12/06/2015 at 5:07 am

    Perhaps the Belgians have the right idea when it comes to filling the Lords to the brim and more. They appear to have a ‘penchant’ for ridding their environment of the over eighties. So much for the right to die crowd and their views.


    I read somewhere that the ousted LibDems were having the afront to fill the Lords with more of their already ‘over represented’ comrades at the tax payers, who made it clear they didn’t want any more of them, expense. My answer to them is, do what the old luvvies do and run a charity for turfed out old actors. And do it with thier own cash. Cleggie, should be the first to cough up as he managed to keep his seat warm. When it is he who should have been the first to go. Seeing as he was the betraying ring leader.

    What really must take place is to rid the Lords of those there for reasons of largesse. As this charity should not be in a politicians gift. Please tell me why running a marathon, or, running for office and being rejected means it qualifies you as a suitable candidate for £300.00 per day of tax payers money, the way Brian Paddick has it? And you could easily go through a list of at least 300 that way. Start with so many who have absolutely no claim to the office at all.

    I expect this politically correct Judge, linked, will be added to the list when she is finally ousted for rank stupidity.


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