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18 May 2018updated 24 Jun 2021 12:22pm

Is Theresa May using the royal wedding as cover to pack the House of Lords?

The Prime Minister is being acccused of using the coming celebations to sneak out the creation of ten new Tory peers.

By Stephen Bush

Is Theresa May using the royal wedding as cover for a parliamentary power grab? According to both the Mirror and the Telegraph, she will announce the creation of ten new Conservative members of the House of Lords and three new Labour members on Saturday. (The government will further pad its representation by adding an extra representative for the DUP.) Is the Prime Minister using the brouhaha around the marriage of Harry and Meghan to hide an attempt to pack the House of Lords?

Well, it’s worth noting that if May is seeking to pack the House of Lords, she’s not doing it very well: the reported new peers, would, when all’s said and done, increase the relative strength of Conservative peers in the upper house by seven and that of the Conservative-DUP alliance by eight. The Conservatives need to increase their representation in the Upper House by an extra 146 peers in order to have a majority in the House of Lords – so are going to need an awful lot of Royal Weddings to get anywhere close to being able to get their way in the Lords as a matter of course.

As far as the specific matter of Brexit goes, the government’s substantial defeats have all been well beyond the overall increase in the number of Conservative-DUP peers relative to anyone else.

Where you can fairly criticise Theresa May is that her decision to add any peers at all to a chamber that is already larger than any legislative chamber in the world bar the China National People’s Congress, which nominally represents 1.3 billion people. It makes a mockery of cross-party recommendations from the House of Lords to shrink the chamber to a more reasonable by operating a “two out, one in” policy. But it doesn’t meaningfully alter the balance of forces as far as Brexit goes.