Most Britons Want to Reduce Seats in the House of Lords

Several proposals that were included in the recently abandoned House of Lords Reform Bill 2012 are widely popular in Britain, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample of 2,004 British adults, at least two thirds of respondents are in favour of reducing the number of members of the House of Lords from more than 800 to 450 (73%) and ensuring that 80% of the members of the House of Lords are elected (67%).

A majority of respondents also supports abolishing hereditary peers (60%) and holding elections to the House of Lords every five years, filling one-third of the elected seats each time (57%).

The least popular measures included in the bill are electing members of the House of Lords to a single 15-year term (50%) and allowing members of the House of Lords to claim a £300 daily allowance for attendance, which would be taxed (25%).

Across Britain, one-in-five respondents (19%) think the UK does not need a House of Lords, and all legislation should be reviewed and authorized by the House of Commons. More than a third of Britons (36%) believe the UK needs a House of Lords, but the people should be allowed to take part in the process to choose lords, while just 16 per cent want the current guidelines that call for appointed lords to remain in place.

Only 25 per cent of respondents think the bill to reform the House of Lords “is about right”, and just 36 per cent would be willing to vote in favour of the bill if a referendum on it were held tomorrow. Still, three-in-five Britons (62%) would support holding a nationwide vote to settle the issue.

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Methodology: From August 9 to August 10, 2012, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 2,004 randomly selected British adults who are Springboard UK panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.