Lords expansion means Scots elect only four per cent of UK parliament


  By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish voters now elect only four per cent of the total number of Westminster parliamentarians it has emerged.
The figure follows the expansion of the House of Lords which has resulted in the total number of unelected peers rising to 800.

Seven years after the cash for honours scandal, this week saw thirty new peers, including major party donors, appointed to the second chamber, something the SNP has called an “affront to democracy”.

Commenting, the MP who exposed the cash for honours scandal, Angus MacNeil, said:

“Under the Westminster system, we now have the ludicrous situation that there are far more legislators who are appointed than elected – and people in Scotland elect only 4 per cent of the parliamentarians who hold powers over the economy, welfare, defence, our place in Europe, and many other crucial areas of policy.

“The UK parties nominating their own donors to the House of Lords is part and parcel of Westminster’s crony culture – and the Lords is now the second biggest chamber in the world after the Chinese National People’s Congress, which governs a country of 1.3 billion!”

The Scottish National Party refuses to nominate any of its politicians for a peerage.  The party’s long-standing position is that it believes those making laws should be elected by the people.

Amongst the House of Lords’ newest members are financial backers of all three Unionist parties.  Glasgow businessman Sir William Haughey, who has donated £1.3 million to the Labour party, received a peerage as did Sir Anthony Bamford, the managing director of JCB who has given millions to the Tories.

The newest recruits to the chamber, which allows peers to vote on legislation and claim hundreds of pounds each day in tax free expenses, prompted another peer to admit the system was now in need of urgent reform.

Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat and former member of the joint committee on House of Lords reform, said that giving peerages to party donors “pollutes parliament and political parties who collude in this”.

He added: “It’s now more urgent and vital than ever that we elect the lords and get big money out of British politics for good.”

There are now 783 active peers in addition to 650 MPs.  Out of 1,433 UK parliamentarians, 59 are elected Scottish MPs.  The figures mean that people in Scotland now elect just 4.1 per cent of the UK Parliament.

SNP MP Angus McNeil said independence would allow better and more efficient government.

“A Yes vote for independence means that people in Scotland can get rid of the expensive and unrepresentative Westminster tier – which means better and cheaper government.” he added.

“It really is an affront to democracy that, at a time of economic austerity and cuts, this lavish anachronism grows in numbers – despite promise after promise that it will be reformed.  Only a Yes vote in 2014 will enable Scotland to be governed 100 per cent by parliamentarians elected 100 per cent by the people of Scotland.”