Grant Shapps wrong to say Labour has a majority in the House of Lords

22 January 2024
What was claimed

The Labour party controls the House of Lords and has a majority there.

Our verdict

This is incorrect. No party has an overall majority in the House of Lords, and there are considerably more Conservative peers than Labour.

“They [the Labour party] control the House of Lords and they have a majority there.”

In an interview on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg [20.10] at the weekend, defence secretary Grant Shapps claimed the Labour Party were in control of the upper chamber of the UK Parliament. 

During a discussion about the government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill, Mr Shapps said he hoped it would become law and added: “I appeal to Keir Starmer and Labour to stop frustrating and blocking Conservative efforts to stop these boats from coming.” 

When Ms Kuenssberg interjected that the passage of the Bill was now a matter for the House of Lords, Mr Shapps replied: "Well no it's not. This is what they keep saying but they control the House of Lords and they have a majority there."

This is incorrect, as Labour neither “control” nor have a majority in the House of Lords. 

If a Minister makes a false or misleading claim on broadcast media they should take responsibility for ensuring it is appropriately corrected, and make efforts to ensure the correction is publicly available to anyone who might have heard the claim, for example, by issuing a correction on social media or publishing a note on the Government website, and by ensuring the broadcaster is made aware of their error. 

It is an MP’s responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent anyone else from being misled by their claim and to ensure anyone who already heard the claim is aware that it has subsequently been corrected.  

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No overall control

Unlike MPs in the House of Commons, members of the House of Lords are not elected by the public. Instead the vast majority are appointed by the monarch on the advice of the prime minister. The remainder are hereditary peers who continue to sit in the House of Lords due to the titles they have inherited, as well as a fixed number of Church of England archbishops and bishops

Life peers, who potentially retain their membership of the House for life, are either political appointees nominated by party leaders or crossbench peers, unaffiliated to a party, and often appointed for their expertise. 

At the time of writing, there are a total of 784 members eligible to sit in the House of Lords. Of this, 269 belong to the Conservative party, 184 are classed as crossbench peers and 174 are members of the Labour party. 

The remaining members of the House of Lords belong to smaller political parties or sit as independents.

As others have pointed out, it is therefore incorrect to say that the Labour party has a majority in the House of Lords or that it ‘controls’ the House. 

We have contacted Mr Shapps and will update this fact check if we receive a response.

Image courtesy of the Houses of Parliament

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted Grant Shapps to request a correction regarding this claim.

We are waiting to hear back from Grant Shapps.

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