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.