Lord Speaker urges 'restraint' in giving peerages

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The Lord Speaker has called for a change in the way peers are appointed, arguing that some are “eager for the title” but do “precious little” work.

Writing in The House magazine, Lord Fowler said some peers were “entirely unprepared” and urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to show “restraint” in the number of appointments he makes.

He suggested that potential peers are interviewed by a committee.

They should be “asked bluntly what contribution” they will make, he added.

The former Tory cabinet minister, who presides over the daily business of the House of Lords, wrote: “Frankly, we have had enough of peers who are eager enough for the honour of the title but do precious little when they arrive.

“They are a minority – I emphasise that – but it is difficult to justify their place in a modern working House.”

He said membership “should not be considered just as a reward for past service: it also comes with the expectation of a future contribution” and he called for “moderation” from Downing Street on the number of new peers appointed.

Lord Fowler said former Prime Minister Theresa May had written to him 18 months ago, pledging restraint in making appointments to the upper chamber.

He said: “It followed the excesses of Blair and Cameron who between them appointed no fewer than 619 new peers, which at one stage brought the total membership of the Lords above 800.

“With a general election in the offing, we are to expect a dissolution honours list which will add to the numbers on the red benches – with perhaps more to come depending on the actual general election result.

“The decision for Mr Johnson is whether to follow his predecessor’s policy of restraint on new appointments to the Lords or revert to the approach of a former age.”