Sir Keir Starmer is reportedly drawing up plans to “flood” the House of Lords with Labour supporters, despite describing the unelected chamber as “indefensible” and promising to abolish it.
Labour sources told the Times that they’re concerned their 174 peers is not enough to get legislation through after an election victory – even though there is a clear convention that the House of Lords doesn’t block any policies from the winning party’s manifesto.
The Lords currently has 263 Tory peers, 183 ‘crossbench’ peers, 174 Labour peers and 84 Lib Dem peers.
Labour and Sir Keir have spent the last week slamming Boris Johnson’s peerages, with Angela Rayner referring to his six Lords appointments as a “carousel of cronies” that “completely undermines the whole House of Lords”.
If Labour wanted to overtake the Tories’ number of peers they would have to appoint almost 100 Labour politicians and supporters.
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Sir Keir also reportedly wants to appoint young, working-age peers to counteract the ageing continent of Labour Lords appointed 20 years ago by Tony Blair.
There are concerns that Labour’s contingent of peers are now struggling to attend the frequent late-night sittings.
A party source told the paper “There would be lots of opportunities for a Conservative opposition with a bigger, younger group of peers to make life difficult for us in the Lords while respecting convention”.
A shadow cabinet minister said: “We will need to appoint dozens of them, at least. The current cohort aren’t getting any younger, and there’s so few of them doing the actual work that they are increasingly knackered.”
Another source seemingly tore up yet another of Sir Keir’s pledges to abolish the House of Lords in his first time if elected.
He told Sky News his party “do want to abolish the House of Lords”, adding he does not think anybody can “defend” the institution”.
Today a source tells the Times “abolishing the Lords is hardly mission critical to the first three years of a Labour government”.
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson slammed the news, saying: “I thought Sir Flip-Flop was against handing out peerages and was going to abolish the House of Lords?”
Since taking over as leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer’s overseen 18 Labour supporters into the upper house, twice the number appointed under Jeremy Corbyn.
This morning the Commons constitution committee announced a new inquiry into membership of the House of Lords following rows about Boris Johnson and Liz Truss’s appointments.
The inquiry will look into the appointments process, its size and the role and responsibility of Peers.
Announcing the inquiry, chairman Will Wragg criticised Tory Governments for refusing to reform the chamber – not least its ever-swelling size.
A source close to the committee denied that the inquiry announcement had been politically motivated by the Boris Johnson row, saying it had been decided on months ago.