NORMAN Fowler, who has been the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords since September 2016, speaks out about the PM’s recent number of appointments.
After the announcement was made by Number 10 on Tuesday, December 22, that 16 new peers had been appointed to the House of Lords, the Lord Speaker spoke out:
“My fundamental concern is about the number of new peers that have been appointed by the Prime Minister in his first 12 months in Office.
“Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists. This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons,” he explained.
“I will not comment on the personalities involved [however] my concern remains that the central defect is the present system of appointments,” although he did personally approve the appointment of Dr John Sentamu, who served as Archbishop of York.
Lord Folwer continued: “Unlike other senates in democratic countries, there is no limit on the number of members there can be. Any Prime Minister can appoint as many as he or she likes. To her great credit the previous Prime Minister, Theresa May, committed her govt to a policy of ‘moderation.'”
As well as controversially appointing former Tory treasurer and financial services entrepreneur Peter Cruddas, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also nominated former MEP Daniel Hannan, Dame Jacqueline Foster, former deputy leader of the Tory MEP group, and Sir Richard Benyon, a former Tory MP.
“In a massive U-turn, those words seem to have been forgotten. It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC.)” he continued.
“The number of appointments now being made also run smack against the recommendations of the Burns committee on the size of the House that was overwhelmingly endorsed by the House of Lords. The committee recommended that numbers should be reduced to 600.
“To add insult to injury, for the second time the announcement of new peers has been made when Parliament is not sitting.
“Sometimes the Lords itself is blamed for a failure to change. My answer to that is- don’t blame the Lords, blame successive governments who have avoided the subject.
The reply has been that change is ‘not a priority’. It is possible that with the last two lists, the public may now disagree,” the Lord Speaker concluded.
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