Published On: Sun, May 3rd, 2020

Coronavirus shock: House of Lords under threat as No 10 considers urgent reform | UK | News

Under current NHS guidelines, anyone aged above 70-years-old is classified as at ‘high risk’ of contracting COVID-19. The average age of the peers in the Upper House is 70 and therefore, Downing Street and Cabinet Office officials are contemplating plans to bring forward Lords reform as peers will not be able to meet until a vaccine is formulated. The Speaker of the Lords, Baron Fowler is 82 and has been forced to self-isolate in his home on the Isle of Wight. 

According to the Sunday Times, ministers are now examing whether it is possible to retire pensioner peers in order to downsize the house. 

Members could also be elected by each UK region under the proposed reform led by the Government. 

As it stands, there are 787 peers in the House of Lords. 

A Whitehall source said: “The Lords as it is currently composed is completely unworkable given the new environment. 

“It can’t just be allowed to go on with Norman Fowler sitting in the Isle of Wight.

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“It’s farcical. He should be on the woolsack.

“Inside No 10 they are mulling whether this is the moment to rejig the House of Lords. 

“They’re all so old there is no prospect of them going on and doing their job.

“People are asking if this is the moment to retire everyone over the age of 65. 

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As the Government contemplates plans to curb the number of peers over the age of 70, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been criticised for confusing the government’s advice on those at high risk. 

Mr Hancock took to Twitter to dispute a claim that all over 70s are banned from leaving their homes. 

He said: “Sad to see another factually wrong and misleading article on p1 of the Sunday Times.

“The clinically vulnerable, who are advised to stay in lockdown for 12 weeks, emphatically DO NOT include all over 70s.

“I’ve asked for an urgent correction.”

In response, the BBC’s Andrew Neil hit out at the Health Secretary. 

Andrew said: “But government website, in listing what it means by ‘clinically vulnerable people begins: ‘1. Aged 70 or over (regardless of medical condition)’.”

At the time of writing, the UK’s death toll stands at 28,131. 

There have also been 182,260 cases across the country. 

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