Peers cannot spin public opinion – Tyler

Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Tyler has welcomed new evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill.

Inspired by Unlock Democracy, nearly 4,000 members of the public have made their views know to the specially convened group of MPs and Peers.

An overwhelming majority – some 88% – favour either an 80% elected chamber, or a 100% elected chamber, with a similar number (86%) favouring elections by the Single Transferable Vote.

This substantial public response reinforces evidence from the House of Lords Library, charting public attitudes to Lords Reform (link) over twelve years.  British Social Attitudes Surveys show an increasing number of people who believe that the House of Lords should be all or most elected, or appointed and elected equally.  By 2007, 68% agreed with one or other proposal, where only 7.2% thought that all or most Peers should be appointed. 

The public also remain optimistic about reform taking place.  When asked in 2010, 60% of respondents believed there would be direct elections within ten years.  57% supported a system where future members of the House of Lords would be “more independent of party politics than the House of Commons”, while only 5% thought they should represent a single constituency.

Commenting Lord Tyler said,

“There are all too many peers who insist until they are red in the face that no-one cares about reforming the Lords, and that anyone who has thought about it wants to leave well alone.

“Unlock Democracy’s evidence and the panoply of polling over the last decade confounds that analysis.

“If 4,000 people can be bothered to write in, and in every survey vast majorities favour elections, those who claim to be democrats cannot continue to dismiss the public on this subject.

“Even the best spin doctor could not turn this overwhelming evidence on its head.  Complacent peers should not try to do so either.”

ENDS

Notes: The Joint Committee is composed of 13 MPs and 13 Peers, including Lord Tyler.  They are examining a draft Bill, endorsed by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and based on proposals agreed in cross-party talks.  The Bill would fully reform the House of Lords over a long period – probably three Parliaments – starting with the first elections in 2015.  There would be a transitional period in which some or all existing members could stay in the House.  At the end of the process, at least 80% of the reformed second chamber would be elected by the people – one third at a time, for long terms of fifteen years.  The Joint Committee is considering a number of options, including which proportional electoral system to use, whether to choose 100% or 80% elections, and on what day elections should be held.

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