Absentee Lords could lose their seats

Peers want to reduce the overall number of members of the second chamber, and booting out those who never turn up could be the way to do it

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Members of the House of Lords who rarely turn up could lose their seats, under new proposals to reduce the number of peers along with the number of MPs.

Conservative peer Lord Cormack, who co-founded the Campaign for an Effective Second Chamber (CESC), said peers with a 25 per cent attendance record or less could forfeit their positions.

There are currently 810 peers, already significantly more than the 650 MPs, but there are plans for that number to be reduced to 600 before the general election scheduled for 2020. Lord Cormack believes eventually the Lords should be smaller in size than the Commons.

In an article for The House magazine, Lord Cormack wrote: “We would certainly have to exclude those who barely attend. No one can be an effective member of any institution without putting in at least a 25 per cent attendance.”

Research by The Independent found that 117 peers did not speak in the chamber in the last session of parliament, but many of those are likely to have worked on select committees and contributed to parliamentary reports.

Peers are entitled to a £300 a day allowance, with no need to provide receipts, for days on which they attend the chamber. Last year, 49 peers claimed the allowance despite never contributing to a debate in the chamber.

Tory peer Lord Norton, who set up the CESC with Lord Cormack, this week told The Sun: “We are conscious that we must reduce numbers.

“We look bloated to the public, and we will soon also be unable to fulfil our functions with the resources we have.

“Once we get general agreement that the house is too large, we will then move on to implementing how to reduce it.

“We could initiate that with a private members bill in the Lords once we know the government is agreed with our formula.”

Lord Fowler, the new Speaker in the Lords, also recently told The House magazine: “I don’t think that we can justify a situation where you have over 800 peers at the same time as you’re bringing down the Commons to 600 MPs.”