Boundary changes spark Lords anger

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP)
Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP)

Midlothian’s MP has attacked proposals to change UK parliamentary boundaries and reduce the number of MPs to save money.

The proposed changes would see Owen Thompson (SNP) have his Midlothian constituency increased to include Peebles, which is currently part of Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale constituency.

Mr Thompson is angry at the proposals to cut the number of MPs at Westminster from 650 to 600 while the un-elected House of Lords continues to grow.

He said: ““It’s just madness that we have got more than 800 unelected members there, but the number of elected MPs is being cut. I think there is a lot more they could do to cut the House of Lords, which is largely made up of political party affiliates, failed MPs and failed MSPs. Yes there is a make-up of experts but they are a tiny part.

“They say the changes are to save money. But the number of Lords continues to grow, and they can claim £300 a day for attending and £150 a day for working from home.

“So cutting the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons could save a lot of money more quickly.

“The fact that there are 120 Lib Dem Lords but only eight elected members from that party says it all.”

As for the proposed changes to his constituency, Mr Thompson said: “There are a lot of different big issues, but for Midlothian if there is an upside it’s that they have not done anything to chop Midlothian up, as they have done in other places. Because it is done in numbers not geographical areas it’s just not practical. It doesn’t work.”

UK Government Minister for the Constitution, Chris Skidmore (Con), said that the changes “ will ensure an equal say for each voter”.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The Lords has an important role in scrutinising and revising legislation. While comprehensive reform is not a priority in this Parliament, the Government also recognised the importance of addressing its size in its manifesto.

“In the last Parliament, the House showed it could take forward incremental measures - such as allowing peers to retire, enabling peers to be expelled for non-attendance or serious misconduct.

“Where there are further incremental measures that can command consensus from across the House, we would welcome working with peers to look at how to take them forward.”