London-centric House of Lords fails to represent Yorkshire and North, exclusive analysis shows
Senior Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat peers have all called for action to address the imbalance, arguing that Ministers in the Upper House get an “easier ride” on northern issues, which feeds through to policy-making in areas like transport investment, where London has an advantage.
The Electoral Reform Society’s (ERS) new analysis of expenses data was carried out for The Yorkshire Post at a time when the Lords’ role in British politics is under the microscope amid huge high stakes battles with the Government and House of Commons over the shape of Brexit.
Brexit-backing Conservative MP Andrew Percy said the figures showed the need for a “proper elected second chamber that has a regional basis”.
"The House of Lords has proven itself to be little more than a talking shop for privileged interests from the South East of England and London," the Brigg and Goole MP said.
"This has been especially on show in the debates on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill with peers repeatedly trying to thwart the votes of the people of Yorkshire and the North.
“A dose of Yorkshire common sense would have been of value in those elections,”
Former Cabinet Ministers Sir Eric Pickles, who is soon to join the Lords as a Conservative peer, and Labour’s Lord Adonis, along with Liberal Democrat Lords leader Lord Newby, all agreed the regional imbalance is an issue which Theresa May must begin taking seriously, as peers are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister.
Both Lord Adonis and Lord Newby said the lack of northern peers has played a role in the under-investment in the region.
Former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis told this newspaper: “If you don’t believe it look at why London has got such a large share of transport investment over the last 30 years, it’s the national capital and that’s where all the politicians live and have to travel.
“The fact that the overwhelming majority of members of the Lords either live in or near London, it’s just one part of that.”
Sir Eric, who served as Communities Secretary in the coalition Cabinet alongside Mrs May from 2010-2015, said: “I think that’s something that should be addressed and it could be done in a fairly pragmatic way.
“I can think of lots of Yorkshire people who could adorn the benches.”
Darren Hughes, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “These figures reveal the shocking centralisation of power in this country. This London-dominated house totally fails to represent Yorkshire and the North as a whole, skewing our politics and leaving whole swathes of the UK ignored in the Lords.”
A Downing Street spokesman said Lords appointments are made “on merit”.
A House of Lords spokesperson said: “Members of the House of Lords come from across the UK, but are not representatives of geographical areas.
“Members are appointed by virtue of their experience and represent nearly every profession including law, nursing, teaching, defence, engineering, music, television, and politics. No other senate in the world has such diverse members, or as broad a range of expertise.
“All members use their wealth of experience to debate crucial issues, and hold the government to account.”