Theresa May’s decision to create thirteen new peers has provoked some caustic commentary in the British press. Even the conservative Daily Telegraph couldn’t resist running a snarky piece predicting that the House could grow to 1,000 members by 2031.
There’s just one problem: at the moment, the upper house is actually shrinking. As the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler, has observed, thirty-five peers have left the House since the beginning of the present Parliament. Even with these latest appointments, the House is still getting smaller.
The Lord Speaker says that the Prime Minister has “committed herself to restraint when making new appointments to the House of Lords,” and last week’s announcement suggests that she intends to keep her promise. Hopefully, this is a portent of things to come–if the House of Lords is going to survive, prime ministers must resist the temptation to hand out peerages like Halloween candy.