Today’s Sunday Telegraph carries a report that Conservative peers participate in far fewer House of Lords divisions than their Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts.
It states that average attendance rates at votes for peers of the three parties during the 2007-2008 session were:
Labour – 55%
Liberal Democrat – 54%
Conservative – 29%
The report goes on:
"An analysis of the figures shows that 18 per
cent of Tory peers turned up for fewer than one in 10 votes, while only
12 per cent turned up for more than half… No
Conservative peer turned up for more than 100 votes. The highest Tory
attenders were Baroness Anelay of St Johns, the party’s chief whip in
the Upper House, and Baroness Seccombe, who each attended 78 votes. Baroness
Morris of Bolton, the shadow minister for children and a key ally of Mr
Cameron’s in his drive to recruit more women to the party, turned up
There are a couple of points that should be made in defence of the Tory peers.
Firstly, many took their seats in the pre-1999 environment of a House with a considerable hereditary element in which the arithmetic was completely different and fewer peers would have seen their role as a full-time job; conversely a significant proportion of the Labour and Lib Dem peers have been appointed since those changes in 1999.
Secondly, on the few occasions each session when there really is a crunch vote which could lead to a Government defeat, the Tories in the Lords are generally pretty good at being there when it counts.
However, the need for more committed working peers was in our mind when ConservativeHome launched its Search for 100 Peers – an exercise to identify people whom David Cameron ought to consider appointing to the Lords when he has the opporutnity to bolster the Tory ranks in the Upper House.
Please keep emailing me with your suggestions of names to include in the series (with biographical information and why your nomination would be a good working peer, as well as whether you wish to be identified). With your help, we can show just how broad a range of talented and committed Conservative-minded people there are out there who could bring their skills and expertise to the Lords.