Nearly £7 million donated by new Lords appointees

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The 22 new peers appointed yesterday (8 August) have donated nearly £7 million to political parties, says the Electoral Reform Society (ERS)

The vast majority of the £6,912,841 comes from one donor, Michael Farmer. But another five of the new peers are also party donors or closely associated with party donors. And 16 of the 22 new peers have previously held political positions (either elected or employed). This exposes the myth that the House of the Lords is a chamber full of independent experts. Instead it appears to be a way for partypolitcal people to achieve high office without submitting themselves to elections, says the ERS.

Commenting on the new peerages, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “These appointments further cement the impression that to get into the House of Lords, all you have to do is write a fat cheque to a political party or be a party hack. The second chamber is a crucial part of our political system, with real legislative power. It cannot be right that people are effectively able to buy a seat at the highest level of politics.

“It is the founding principle of democracy that we should be able to choose those who govern us.

"Until we have an elected second chamber, as opposed to one full to the brim with favoured sons and daughters, we will not be getting the democracy we deserve.”

The new appointments bring the total number of peers in the House of Lords to 850. The Electoral Reform Society says that with the possibility of more rounds of appointments after the general election to reflect any changes in political balance, the House of Lords is becoming increasingly over- subscribed.

Commenting on the ‘super-sized’ House of Lords, Katie Ghose added: “At this rate it won’t be long before we have twice as many unelected Lords as we do elected MPs.

"That’s clearly an affront to democracy, but it also raises all sorts of practical problems. There simply isn’t enough room for them all. In fact, the only reason the Lords is still able to function at all is because so many don’t show up for work."

She concluded: "The sheer size of the second chamber makes it completely unworkable. And that means reform is coming back on the agenda whether party leaders like it or not. The challenge for them is to address this blight on our democracy once and for all, and not just tinker at the edges."

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