An elegant investigation by the New Local Government Network has revealed that members of the appointed House of Lords are not evenly spread across the country. A disproportionate number live in London and the south east of England. (Read the report here.)
London provides nearly twice as many peers as it should (22 per cent of the total rather than 12 per cent) and the south east of England 50 per cent more (18 per cent rather than 13 per cent). Underrepresented areas include Yorkshire (5 per cent rather than 8 per cent), the West Midlands (4 per cent rather than 9 per cent), and the East Midlands (3 per cent rather than 7 per cent). Interestingly, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do all right: the problem is an imbalance within England.
Given that members of the House of Lords are normally chosen from among people who have achieved some kind of success in their careers or prominence in public life, this shows the centralisation of English business and politics in rather a dramatic form. It also means that the ability of the House of Lords properly to represent England is severely reduced.
The NLGN avoids drawing strong conclusions from this research, recommending instead that the future composition of the House of Lords should be balanced across the country. Fair enough, but the difference between England and the other constituent nations of the United Kingdom shows that the problem of over-centralisation is not confined to the House of Lords but applies to the whole of English public and political life.