With the proposed legislation being published today YouGov have released some polling on House of Lords reform – full tabs are here. Overall, people support the House of Lords being replaced by an elected chamber. 44% would prefer an mostly elected chamber, 32% a mixed elected and appointed chamber, 11% a chamber that was mostly appointed.

Asked specifically about the proposal to make the Lords 80% elected, 31% said this did not go far enough and the Lords should be entirely elected, 34% that the balance was about right, 10% that there should be a smaller elected element and 11% that there should be no elected element to the Lords.

However, as we’ve seen before, public opinion is more complicated than just support or oppose. Just because people support an issue, it doesn’t mean they necessarily care much about it or consider it to be an important priority. Asked whether reforming the Lords should a priority, only 18% of people said it was vital to reform the Lords and that it should be a priority. 52% of people said that while it was good idea, it should not be a priority at the moment given Britain’s other problems. 20% said the Lords works reasonably well and should be left alone.

Asked if there should be a referendum on the future of the Lords 55% of people said yes, 26% no. Don’t run away with the idea that there is a massive public demand for a referendum though – as I’ve written before, whatever the subject people nearly always say they would support a referendum if asked, as it is the equivalent of asking “would you like a say on this, or should politicians decide for you?”. The only exception I’ve narrowed down is whether there should be a referendum on the monarchy, which people don’t support.

UPDATE: The House of Lords Bill has now been published, and provides for a Lords with 90 members appointed by an independent commission, 12 bishops and 360 elected on a regional basis by PR (open party list). Lords would be a elected for 15 years, elected by thirds on the same day as General elections.

For what it’s worth, by my reckoning if we had a House of Lords like this at the moment, and assuming people voted the same way in Lords elections as in Commons elections on the same day (a big assumption – they almost certainly wouldn’t), the current elected make up of the Lords would be CON 128, LAB 141, LDEM 74, SNP 6, PC 2, Northern Ireland parties 9.


81 Responses to “YouGov polling on House of Lords reform”

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  1. Roger – the first members of the new Lords will be elected over three elections, so the first 120 will be elected at the next election for 15 years, the second 120 will be elected at the election after that for 15 years and so on. At the same time there is a transition process for current Lords – a third of them will be removed at the next election, a further third at the election after that, and the final third at the following election.

    The current Fixed Parliament Act covers all future elections – there was an amendment put forward that would have meant it only applied to this Parliament, but it did not make the final Act. Note that the legislation does have provision for early general elections, etc – if a general election occurs within 2 years of the previous general election then there will NOT be a Lords election on the same day.

    If a seat falls vacant it will be filled by the next person on the party list, or in the absence of such (if, for example, someone elected as an independent dies) the person who would have taken the next seat in that region. The new person serves only until the next Lords election, when if the original Lord still has 5 or 10 years left on their term a permanent replacement is elected.

    Another thing I didn’t mention is that the government will also be able to appoint Ministerial Lords, for the purpose of appointing them to a ministerial role. The government can only have 8 of these serving in ministerial roles at a time, although my reading is that the Ministerial Lords will serve their full 15 years in the Lords even if they step down from office.

  2. And for those interested, here’s how the open list system will work.

    People can vote EITHER for a party list OR for an individual person on the list*.

    The seats for each party in each region then get distributed by the d’Hondt system, just like in European elections. However, when it comes to deciding which party candidate actually gets the seat, any candidate who gets 5% of the votes cast for that party jumps to the top of that party’s list (obviously if more than one do, the person with the most votes goes to the top of that party’s list).

    (*or an independent, but that basically works like a list of one person).

  3. “The notion of someone swanning in for 15 years is enough to give the proposals the heave-ho.”

    It has the advantage of providing experience and Lords have life tenure now.

    @Roger Mexico

    To be fair I missed that the first time I read it, as well.

    I’m enjoying the hilarious tobacco industry propaganda linked from the banner ads, by the way.

  4. ” it is NOT a priority at the moment, given Britain’s other problems.”

    The only meaningful interpretation of those agreeing with that statement, is that politicians, their advisers, and civil servants (all of them, and 24 hours a day, every day) are only capable of examining one issue at a time.

    It seems a particularly foolish addendum to a question – but the politicians only have themselves to blame. The constant whining from opposition politicians to the government of the day that they should only be concentrating on issue X, is even more foolish.

  5. AW

    @”People can vote EITHER for a party list OR for an individual person on the list*.
    The seats for each party in each region then get distributed by the d’Hondt system, just like in European elections. However, when it comes to deciding which party candidate actually gets the seat, any candidate who gets 5% of the votes cast for that party jumps to the top of that party’s list (obviously if more than one do, the person with the most votes goes to the top of that party’s list).
    (*or an independent, but that basically works like a list of one person).”

    Absolutely horrendous.

    I would rather have a Lords chosen by some means from HoC to provide expertise from a diverse range of commercial, industrial, professional etc disciplines, rather than a bunch of party hasbeens & hacks “elected” to meaningless “constituencies” in that way.

    I don’t even object to a small element of hereditaries. The don’t have consituencies,or financial reliance on their positions. If they have a useful background they can help too.

    The Lords scrutinise legislation from HoC-they don’t make law. There is no need to go through these ridiculous hoops to produce this grotesque pretence of “legitimacy ” & “democracy”.

  6. Colin

    What is that you see as horrendous?

    That voters can overturn the rankings decided by a political party (that would be a welcome change to the current party list system that we use in the euro elections, or the regional lists for Holyrood), or that a form of PR is being used, or something else?

    Incidentally, bills can equally well start off in the Lords, and then be scrutinised in the Commons.

  7. Oldnat (I don’t think you are talking about where a bill starts off in this context, but I think someone else further up the thread mentioned it),

    In the context of this Bill, where the Government have indicated their willingness to use the Parliament Act, the Bill has to be introduced in the Commons first in order for the Parliament Act to be used.

  8. Daily predictification:

    Con 33.2
    Lab 42.8
    LD 9.1

  9. CON 128, LAB 141, LDEM 74, SNP 6, PC 2, Northern Ireland parties 9.

    Those figures look absolutely dreadful for a supposedly PR system.

  10. Anthony

    True – but I was talking in terms of the status quo. How else can one discuss things with a Tory? :-)

  11. Craig – remember that they are elected over three Parliaments, so they won’t reflect the vote at the 2010 election alone… but also the vote at the 2005 and 2001 elections. Hence Labour would still have substantially more seats because of all the seats they would have won in 2001 and 2005.

  12. Anthony

    Are English bishops still to have a say in determining laws elsewhere in the UK under these proposals?

  13. Old Nat
    Bishops having a say in England is not enthusing this Lib Dem with a proposal, which is essentially a Lib Dem one, I assume.

    I know it’s not really important but you perhaps can only guess how depressing the proposal is to a lifelong democrat (note small d). I really thought the establishment would be destroyed before I die.

    No chance now.

  14. Con 31, Lab 45, LD 8, UKIP 7 tonight.

    After an uncharacteristically low 8 point lead yesterday, Lab have an equally uncharacteristic (but welcome!) lead of 14. So swinging wildly between the MOE extremes of a 10-11 lead. Nice and comfy. Cannot be factoring the fuel tax nonsense from yesterday and poor Chloe Smith’s kebabbing by Paxo – so leads of 12-14, maybe16, to become the new norm?

    You can be ruthless and wrong and still win (perhaps), but you can’t be simultaneously ruthless, wrong and incompetent. It is looking bad for Con and GO. Is it too early to pop the champers in the fridge for the GE?

  15. Oldnat – they certainly do, 12 will retain their seats.

  16. Amongst 18-24 year olds`,Lab lead 71 to 9…I assume as a result of the call to take away Housing Benefit from under 25`s while maintaining the benefits of the elderly.

    But who are the 9 people?:)

  17. Tonight’s YouGov: With an implausible 71% of 18-24 voters in a tiny sample of 54 supporting Labour, and then being given four times the weight of respondents in other age groups, this surely has to be an outlier?

  18. @TARK
    “Is it too early to pop the champers in the fridge for the GE?”

    It’s never too early.

  19. AW

    What will happen to the parliament act ? I would think it would have to be revised, as to when the HOC can insist on passing legislation, given that the numbers of opposition members in the HOL, could attempt to block legislation.

    There is also the issue of what amount of time the HOL would have to scrutinise and revise legislation. Again the point is that without some form of timetabling, the opposition in an elected HOL, could attempt to talk legislation out or force the government to accept changes.

  20. “@ SMukesh

    Amongst 18-24 year olds`,Lab lead 71 to 9…I assume as a result of the call to take away Housing Benefit from under 25`s while maintaining the benefits of the elderly.

    But who are the 9 people?:)”

    The 9 have very rich parents, who have put money away for them, so they can buy houses with cash. Or perhaps they had just downed a large bottle of strong cider and were just having a laugh. :)

    But that is just a humorous point and AW would no doubt point to there only being 54 people ask. Don’t look at crossbreaks, but look at the data over a period of time. etc etc.

  21. Anthony

    “12 will retain their seats”

    How many bishops do you guys have?

    If more than 12, will there have to be a Monty Python play off for the places?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79vdlEcWxvM

  22. The Parliament Act remains in force (there is actually a minor amendment to it, as currently there is a pre-amble to the 1911 Act setting out the ambition to ultimately make the Lords elected, which becomes obsolete)

    The absence of a guillotine in the HoL at the moment has nothing to due with statute, it is just the culture of the House. If the Bill goes though then I am sure the new elected House will develop its own cultures and practices over time. Perhaps it will end up guillotined, perhaps it will self-regulate and avoid the need for it as the present Lords does.

  23. Oldnat – there are already more bishops than there are places, at the moment I believe it works on seniority. The proposed legislation names five particular archbishoprics and bishoprics that get seats, and leaves the Church of England to decide who gets the other ones, so long as they go to bishops.

  24. @R Huckle
    You could ignore the 18-24s as just another crossbreak if the weighting applied to them was similar to other groups, because then it would be likely that an apparent anomaly in that crossbreak would be countered by one somewhere else. The problem is that they are subject to a weighting of 4 times their size, whereas other groups aren’t, so the anomaly is magnified and won’t be countered.

  25. @OldNat (to @Colin)
    “What is that you see as horrendous?”

    If it’s such a good idea, do you advocate the creation of a similar second chamber at Holyrood, with its members being elected for 15 year terms?

  26. Could not DC do a new populist move and propose a ‘bonfire of bishoprics’?

  27. New thread.

  28. PHIL

    A second chamber for an independent Scotland? Yes, I support that. Given our geographic diversity, it makes sense to have a second chamber in which the North and South have enhanced representation compared with the Central Belt. The US Senate isn’t exactly a good model for most things, but equal representation for defined parts of the country would make sense for us.

    Based on the nonsense that is the UK HoL – of course not.

  29. Phil,

    I disagree, as I have said before with PR you don’t need a second chamber to hold a FPTP government elected by a minority to account.

    We have too many politicians already without replacing the MP’s we get shot of with Senators.

    Peter

  30. Interesting to see no question on abolition in this poll… I wonder what percentage of Britons would favour no Lords at all.

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