For immediate release: Thursday 14 April 2016
Attn: Newsdesks and Political Correspondents
LIBERAL LORDS ELECTION FARCE
SALMOND: ‘UK GOVERNMENT SHOULD FOCUS ON ABOLISHING LUDICROUS LORDS INSTEAD OF CUTTING SCOTTISH MPs’
Alex Salmond has today highlighted the ‘ludicrous farce’ of the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers' by-election during a debate in the House of Commons.
The election, which will take place next week, is only open to Liberal Democrat hereditary peers and will have an electorate of just three people. The winner will be able to vote on laws and claim £300 a day in allowances for life. It will add yet another member to the ever-expanding House of Lords, which already has 816 peers making it the second-largest legislative chamber in the world after the National People’s Congress of China, which serves a population of 1.4billion.
It comes at the same time as the UK government continues to pursue its plans to reduce the number of Scottish MPs by ten per cent, diminishing Scotland’s voice at Westminster under the guise of being a cost-saving measure, despite the fact that David Cameron has created 244 new unelected peers since 2010 with plans to create 40 more – costing the public millions every year.
Opinion polls have consistently shown that a majority of Scots want to see the House of Lords scrapped – a YouGov poll in September 2015 found that 67 per cent of people in Scotland want it to be abolished.
The SNP has long called for the House of Lords to be abolished and included a manifesto pledge in its 2015 General Election Manifesto. While the SNP won 56 of 59 seats at the election the Tories got their lowest share of the vote since 1865 and have failed to win more than one seat in Scotland at any election since 1997.
Speaking in the Chamber Alex Salmond MP said:
“Can we have an early debate entitled ‘Liberal democracy in the 21st century’ to celebrate next Tuesday’s by-election of the hereditary section of the other place among the Liberals?
“There are seven candidates that have been declared and they will face an electorate of three; the noble Earls of Glasgow, and Oxford and Asquith and Lord Addington.
“The count will be conducted by electoral reform services and the full results, including the number of first preference votes for each candidate and the position after the transfer of votes, will be available in the printed paper office.
“How long are we going to have situation where a party, rejected by the people, is kept alive in political life support by patronage?
“And, is the Leader of the House really going to propose to reduce the size of the elected chamber when we have more than 800 members in the Lords participating in these farces?”
Commenting following the exchange Kirsty Blackman MP, the SNP spokesperson on the House of Lords, said:
"This ludicrous farce highlights everything that is wrong with the undemocratic and unaccountable House of Lords.
“While the UK government seek to diminish Scotland’s elected voice at Westminster, by culling the number of MPs we have representing us, they are at the same time intent on increasing the ever-expanding size and cost of this absurd relic – it is the height of Westminster hypocrisy.
“The message from the people of Scotland at the last election could not have been clearer – it is the same message that we have seen in all the opinion polls – the House of Lords should be scrapped and Scotland’s voice at Westminster must be strengthened not weakened. The Prime Minister should listen to the voters in Scotland for once and abolish this ridiculous institution.”
Notes for editors:
SNP Westminster press office: 0207 219 0530
A video of the exchange can be found at (11:01:58): http://goo.gl/W7fmlk
House of Lords notice: Arrangements and list of candidates for Liberal Democrat hereditary peers’ by-election: http://goo.gl/RuuGBH
House of Lords' notice: Liberal Democrat hereditary peers' by-election: http://goo.gl/5HTxCO
Number of peers created by David Cameron since May 2010 (House of Commons Library): http://goo.gl/NbCsGM
Coverage of David Cameron’s plans to create more peers: http://goo.gl/q7FamL
YouGov poll on Scottish views of House of Lords abolition: https://goo.gl/jWEPIO
The SNP 2015 General Election Manifesto: http://goo.gl/xnBVUT