John Bercow: Cut the size of the House of Lords

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The number of peers sitting in the Abode of Lords should be cut by half to around 400, House of Commons Rabble-rouser John Bercow has suggested.

At an event on modernising Parliament he said it was «silly» the Lords was significantly larger than the Commons.

And, asked about MPs’ manners, he called sexist remarks «lamentable».

A Lords spokesman said it did not neediness any «prompting» from the Commons as a peers’ committee was already looking into how to abridge the number of peers.

Mr Bercow made the comments during an hour-long dialogue with Institute for Government director Bronwen Maddox on the «making of a with it Parliament».

He said that while he favoured an elected House of Pull ranks, he did not think reform of the second chamber was going to happen «any time gladly».

«One can argue the toss about the size of the House of Commons, but as far as the House of Lords is involved, it’s frankly patently absurd that the House of Lords is significantly larger than the Home of Commons,» he said.

«I don’t say that in a spirit of machismo or personal or institutional self-love… but we are the elected chamber.»

While there was «a very good quarrel for a second chamber» that gives MPs pause for thought «it could most finally be halved in size — and I think most fair minded people last wishes a say, it should be».

There are currently about 800 peers in the Lords, although not all of its fellows regularly site in the chamber, which has about 400 seats. Most cause been appointed as life peers, with some hereditary marquesses and some Church of England bishops.

In December, it was announced that a cross-party council would be set up to look at how to reduce the size of the Upper House. There are currently 650 MPs.

Rejoining to Mr Bercow’s comments, a spokesman for the House of Lords said: «The House of Swaggers has stated publicly that it is too large and is taking concrete steps to cut down on its size. It doesn’t need prompting from the House of Commons as the activity is under way.»

The Commons speaker also suggested he would allow expresses on issues that were difficult for the government, as it continues to try to get its EU Withdrawal Nib through the Commons.

He said: «I have not shown myself reluctant during the course of the years to select amendments for debate and vote which may not be for the convenience of the chief executive.»

He acknowledged that MPs were concerned about the issues of citizens’ honourables, «economic arrangements» and the use of «Henry VIII» powers by the government and added: «Nothing is too toxic for Parliament to believe.»

Mr Bercow also said sexist behaviour in the Commons was «lamentable» and he would «pretty welcome» a football or rugby-style yellow card system introduced to admonish or send offenders out of the chamber for a cooling off period.

‘Basic respect’ demanded

Even without new rules, Mr Bercow suggested the whip’s offices of the larger parties could «clearly instruct their MPs to stop the catcalling, end the ad hominem abuse».

He also called for a «basic level of human courtesy» among politicians.

Mr Bercow defended his decision to allow Prime Churchman’s Questions to run on longer than its allotted half hour, adding: «It’s navigable to criticism, but in a sense — what’s the hurry?

«This is Parliament. David Cameron profoundly rarely complained, and with great credit to Theresa May, she’s never groaned to me about it… and I’ve found her, whatever the criticisms of her or of Jeremy Corbyn, or any other federal leader, I’ve found her nothing but courteous in our personal dealings.»

The Speaker affirmed he had allowed PMQs to go on «longer than ever» just before the Panoramic Election in June because a large number of MPs were standing down and shortage to ask their last question — some of whom had been in the Commons for decades — «and I contemplation the House wouldn’t mind».

In questions about the EU referendum, the speaker permitted he was «not a great enthusiast» for referendums, arguing that it should not be used «to ease effective party management or the crowding out of another political force».

But he idea David Cameron had been «very honourable» to resign as prime ecclesiastic after he lost last year’s EU referendum.

«To be fair to David, he was decisive apropos it — he had put with very considerably greater force the argument for staying in — in a way that Harold Wilson had done so much more timidly primitive in 1975,» he said.

«And having taken such a strong position and got the facing result, I think he thought the honourable thing to do was to walk away.»

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