In a Parliamentary Question, Ellesmere Port & Neston MP Justin Madders raised concern about the number of peers in the House of Lords who do not contribute to debates or even attend regularly.
The Government is currently undertaking a costly boundary review in order to reduce the number of MPs by 50, which they claim will reduce the cost of politics. Similar proposals were made three years ago and later withdrawn after public outrage about the new constituencies created by the exercise.
Over 800 people joined a ‘Keep Ellesmere Port Together’ Facebook group in protest at plans by the Government to split Ellesmere Port in two, moving half into a ‘Chester’ constituency and the other half into ‘Mersey Banks,’ which also includes Eastham, Bromborough, Frodsham and Helsby, Weaver and even Hale and Ditton across the Mersey. The historic split between Ellesmere Port & Neston would also be broken, with Neston moved to another constituency.
Speaking at Cabinet Office Questions, Justin asked the Minister to instead look at the House of Lords if he wanted to make savings. With over 800 members, the House of Lords is the second biggest legislative chamber in the world, behind the National People’s Congress of China. In 2013/14 the House of Lords cost £93.1 million and with the introduction of new peers, it is now expected to cost above £100 million.
Questioning the Minister, Justin said:
Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab):
In the past year, one in seven peers did not speak at all in the other place, despite many of them claiming allowances. If the Government are so keen to reduce the cost of politics, why are they not doing anything about this?
Cabinet Office Minister (Mr Oliver Letwin):
The hon. Gentleman needs to recognise the invaluable role that the House of Lords still plays in vetting what we do in this House, reflecting on it, and sometimes forcing us to reconsider it. We want to maintain that valuable relationship.
Commenting afterwards, Justin said:
"It is now more clear than ever that the only reason the Conservatives want to redraw the political map is to rig the outcome of the next election.
If this really was about reducing the cost of politics, they’d start with the House of Lords. There is no justification for so many Lords collecting their £300 a day and then saying nothing”