If the Tories win the next General Election it will be the first time that they control the Commons without controlling the Lords.
Radio 4's Westminster Hour discussed this reality on last Sunday's programme. Listed below are some of the key observations made during Mandy Baker's fascinating eight minute package:
- Not only have the Tories lost their Lords majority during the Labour years they have ceased to be the biggest party in the Lords. Labour peers currently outnumber Tory peers by 22.
- David Cameron would need to appoint about 250 new peers to have a Tory majority in the Upper House. While this is legally possible there would be outrage from the media and political opposition if attempted quickly.
- The number of Labour peers will also probably increase somewhat after the election as it is accepted that an outgoing Prime Minister is permitted to enoble a certain number of people who have served him (or her).
- It is not just a numbers game. The Tory benches are full of much older peers. Two-thirds of the Labour and Liberal Democrat peers have been appointed since 1997.
- And who will Cameron appoint? There is no pay for being a member of the Lords and the expenses do not compensate high-earners.
- A lot of Labour peers may stop attending the Lords once they become the opposition. It is very different from being ministers to being opposition peers. Even if their level of attendance drops, however, they'll still be available for big votes on, for example, any Tory attempts to dismantle the Human Rights Act.
ConHome produced this graphic at the start of the year to illustrate the composition of the Lords: