Full House? Cameron to appoint 40 new peers to unelected Lords

© Toby Melville
Prime Minister David Cameron will appoint more than 40 new peers on Thursday, bringing the total number in the House of Lords to around 830 members. The move raises fresh questions about the credibility of the unelected upper house.

Ministers will publish the long-awaited dissolution honors list on the same day the UK’s latest immigration figures are released, prompting speculation the government is trying to bury bad news.

The list is expected to include a handful of new Liberal Democrat peers and a large number of Conservative peers, as Cameron seeks to increase the Tories’ influence in the upper chamber.

The latest round of appointees will make the House of Lords the second-biggest legislative chamber in the world after the National People’s Congress in China, which has 2,987 parliamentarians.

New appointees include banker James Lupton, who has donated £2.8 million (US$4.32 million) to the Conservatives and is the party’s co-treasurer.

Lupton was also a donor and supporter of Kids Company, a charity which recently closed under controversial circumstances.

Ultimo bra boss Michelle Mone is also reportedly on the list. The lingerie tycoon, who is said to be worth £20 million, was awarded an OBE for her contribution to business in 2010.

Mone would “bring something new to the stuffy Lords. It needs shaking up,” a source told the Sun.

Pundits expect the Tory appointments to include Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister Kate Fall and Stephen Gilbert, who ran the Conservatives’ election ground campaign.

The dissolution list could also include former Foreign Secretary William Hague, former chief whip Sir George Young and one-time Universities Minister David Willetts.

Labour is widely expected to receive fewer peerages, as the Tories seek to skew the upper chamber in their favor.

Former Labour cabinet ministers Alistair Darling, Peter Hain and David Blunkett are among potential nominees.

The Liberal Democrats are set to receive a larger proportion of peers in reflection of their involvement in the last government.

Sir Alan Beith, Sir Menzies Campbell and Sir Malcolm Bruce are all expected to become Lords on Thursday.

The Electoral Reform Society predicts the new peers will cost taxpayers more than £1.3m a year.

The organization launched a recent report titled ‘House of Lords: Fact vs Fiction’ which highlights the lack of accountability and expense of the unelected chamber.

According to the report, in the 2010-2015 Parliament some £360,000 was claimed by peers in years they failed to vote once. While Lords do not receive a salary, they are entitled to generous expenses.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to reform House of Lords into an elected ‘senate’ if his party won power in the May general election.

We will make the second chamber of Parliament truly a senate of the regions and nations of our whole country,” Miliband announced at the Labour Party’s North West regional conference in Blackpool last November.

The House of Lords is one of the biggest pieces of unfinished business in our constitution,” the party said at the time.