Arise, Lord Paddick? 95 new Lib Dem peers set to be created

by Stephen Tall on May 17, 2010

The Times reports today that one of the first moves of the new Lib Dem / Conservative coalition government will be to create up to 172 new peers in the House of Lords to create political balance and “ensure that controversial legislation gets through Parliament”.

The current composition of the Lords is as follows:

    Labour 211 (30%)
    Conservative 188 (27%)
    Lib Dem 72 (10%)
    Ukip 2 (0%)
    Crossbenchers 182 (26%)
    Lords Spiritual 25 (4%)
    Other 24 (3%)
    Total 704

In total, then, the coalition government comprises just over one-third of peers, and could be blocked on its legislative agenda – including of course the replacement of the Lords itself with an wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation, as stated in the coalition agreement:

We agree to establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motions by December 2010. It is likely that this bill will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.

The Times estimates that the Lib Dem number of peers will need to be boosted from 72 to 167 to ensure representation in proportion to the party’s share of the vote – an increase of 95, more than double the party’s current contingent.

So where will they all come from? The Times speculates:

The Lib Dems would be likely to reach into local government for some appointments. Party donors could be rewarded, although the Lib Dems have ruled out putting any with non-dom tax status in the second chamber. Ian Wright, the Diageo communications director, and Neil Sherlock, a partner at KPMG, two advisers to the party, are possible candidates.

The party does, of course, have an elected list of party members from which the leadership should be looking to draw to be considered as future members of the House of Lords. Elected by conference in 2008 and valid until 2012, the 30 party members on the interim peers list is as follows, in order:

    1. PADDICK, Brian
    2. BRACK, Duncan
    3. BINGHAM, Viv
    4. DEWAN, Ramesh
    5. STONEHAM, Ben
    6. SMITH, Julie
    7. FRYER, Jonathan
    8. LISHMAN, Gordon
    9. WILLIAMS, David
    10. BEARDER, Catherine
    11. MARKS, Jonathan
    12. WHITE, Chris
    13. GALLAGHER, Jock
    14. COLEMAN, Ruth
    15. PEARCEY, Jackie
    16. MCGUINNESS, Justine
    17. KEMPTON, James
    18. LE BRETON, Bill
    19. ADAMSON, Robert
    20. HAYES, Josephine
    21. AFZAL, Qassim
    22. PRICE, Peter
    23. PALMER, Monroe
    24. MUGHAL, Fiyaz
    25. GREAVES, Bernard
    26. SMITHARD, Jane
    27. SHERWELL, Alan
    28. AMBACHE, Jeremy
    29. STEVENS, John
    30. VICKERS, Tony
    (Data courtesy Colin Rosenstiel)

Can all 30 on the list expect a call in the days and weeks to come? Or will the Lib Dem leadership ignore (at least in parts) those named above when making their little list?

And even if all 30 of the elected interim peers panel were called up to serve, however temporarily, in the House of Lords, the Lib Dem leadership would still need to find a further 65 Lib Dem peers. Doubtless some of those who lost their seats last week might be invited – but who else, and how will they be chosen?

Discuss …

Update: James Graham provides further background to the interim peers panel election results, and their potential impact on what comes next with Lords reform over at his Quaequam Blog! here.