Tommy Sheppard | MP for Edinburgh East

Campaign for reform of the House of Lords

It was an enormous honour to be elected as a Member of Parliament in 2015. People often talk about Westminster being a 'beacon of democracy' after all. But when you take a closer look, all is not what it seems. Those who have a vote can elect 650 MPs to the House of Commons. They represent those people and, if you decide your MP isn't doing a good enough job, you can vote them out at the next general election. But alongside the House of Commons is the House of Lords. Currently there are about 800 people eligible to take part in the work of the House of Lords. The vast majority are life peers - not elected by you but appointed by those already in power and with no way for the electorate to remove them. I've been the SNP Spokesperson on the House of Lords since the snap general election in 2017 and I've made clear the SNP's opposition to this establishment regularly.

Core Campaign Aims:

Abolition of the House of Lords 

Find out more about the campaign and the latest updates below:

April 2021 - Publication of my 2021 "Their Scottish Lordships" Report

This week I published my 2021 report into the Scottish Lords. The report - titled "Their Scottish Lordships" highlights just how unrepresentative the Scottish member of the Lords are, the widening democratic deficit and the extortionate cost to the public purse. Find out more here.

December 2020 - The political peerages of 2020 announced

Today sees the Tories and Labour continuing to stuff the House of Lords with their cronies. We deserve so much better from this as a democracy. Read the list of appointments here.

October 2020 - I reiterate my call for the House of Lords to be abolished

"Any democrat should instinctively feel there’s something off with people you did not elect and cannot remove making the laws by which all of us live." I used a blog on the SNP website to call for the scrapping of the archaic, unrepresentative and undemocratic House of Lords. Read it here.

August 2020 - Ruth Davidson is appointed to the House of Lords

The former leader of the Scottish Conservative party has become a Baroness. She was appointed alongside 35 others - 19 of whom are Conservative, 11 of whom are women and 18 are former MPs.

April 2020 - Sunday Times reports House of Lords expense claims have risen by 29% 

The Sunday Times reported that the House of Lords expense claims rose by 29% in a year, taking the total bill to £23 million. I commented:

"The House of Lords has absolutely no place in a modern democracy  – allowing the Westminster parties to reward selfish donors, cronies and politicians rejected by the voters completely erodes trust in our politics.  Allowing peers to profit from their status, without any accountability to the taxpayers who pay for them to live the high-life, is completely undemocratic.

The House of Lords is quickly becoming a national embarrassment. The sooner this undemocratic, out-of-touch institution is abolished, the better."

January 2020 - Report released showing deep divergence between the Peers and the people of Scotland

In my role as House of Lords spokesperson I prepared a report outlining the extent to which the Scottish Lords were unrepresentative of Scotland in 2019.

It found that in every single area of analysis - covering political affiliation, constitutional aspiration, gender, age and social background - the evidence exposes a chasm which exists between peers and the democratically elected representations of Scotland.

Key findings of the report include:
-       The proportion of Scotland’s MPs in the previous UK parliament that belonged to the Labour Party was 12% yet 42% of the House of Lords were Labour peers
-       The proportion of Scotland’s MPs that belonged to the Liberal Democrats was 7% yet 19% of the House of Lords were Liberal Democrat peers
-       The proportion of Scotland’s MPs that belonged to the Conservative Party was 22% yet 30% of the House of Lords were Tory peers
-       0% of Scottish peers in the previous parliament supported independence despite 45% of the people in Scotland supporting it in 2014
-       Only 14% of Scotland’s peers were women
-       Almost 70% of Scottish peers, were aged 65 or over
-       About three-fifths (59%) attended a private school

It also finds that the expenses bill of Scotland’s 87 peers between October 2017 and September 2018 was £2,939,035 at a time when the Tories’ austerity agenda increased poverty in the UK.

You can read the full report here.

November 2017 - Westminster Hall debate on the House of Lords
I led a debate in Westminster Hall on the House of Lords. In it I was clear that it is an out of date institution that's unrepresentative, undemocratic and in urgent need of reform. Watch my full speech here.