Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Thursday, 8 November 2012

Retire or lose your title, peer recommends

A Labour peer has suggested a novel way of enticing peers to retire in order to reduce the size of the House of Lords.

Lord Dubs said peers should be told they will lose their titles if they remain in the upper chamber.

There are more than 800 members of the House of Lords, of which just over 750 are free to turn up on any day. A retirement scheme introduced 18 months ago has so far attracted only two volunteers.

Lord Dubs said at question time on 8 November 2012: "This House is now far too large and there is not a single member of it who would be happy at further increases.

"Why not suggest that if anybody wishes to stay in this House they drop their title, but if they leave the House they can retain it?" he asked, prompting laughter around the chamber.

Leader of the House Lord Strathclyde said it was a suggestion to add to the "very many" that had been proposed in recent years.

However, Lord Walton of Detchant, a crossbench peer, said he believed that only financial "incentives" for peers would work.

"A number of Lords of mature years have indicated that they might consider the possibility of honourable voluntary retirement given an incentive say in the form of a retirement gratuity equivalent to what they had claimed in expenses in the previous year.

"Some have indicated that in the absence of such an incentive they will continue to stay in the House indefinitely."

Lord Strathclyde responded: "Try as they might to stay here indefinitely, I think they would find that extremely hard.

"I'm no actuary but we have lost 39 of our number since the general election and it is likely we will lose a similar number between now and the next general election."

Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler told the House that in 1820 peers were fined up to £100 for each day's absence.

"In today's money wouldn't that help deal with the deficit?" he suggested.

"It certainly would," Lord Strathcylde joked.

Peers are unpaid but can claim a £300 allowance each day they attend the Lords.

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