Electoral Calculus have done a review of how a House of Lords election may have turned out by 4 different voting methods link to the full article can be found at the bottom.

The number of seats for each area of the country is shown in the table below. There is deliberate over-representation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as for rural areas such as the north of England.
of Counties
Average County
East Midlands2,708,2914677,073
North West4,085,7335817,147
Northern Ireland1,169,1846194,864
South East5,273,1546878,859
South West4,494,0948561,762
West Midlands4,459,1767637,025
United Kingdom45,601,06080570,013
This proposal could be criticised for producing constituencies of very different sizes. Some Counties are larger than others, and some are very small. The two largest are West Yorkshire (1,551,413) and Hampshire (1,412,555). The two smallest are Orkney and Shetland (33,085), and the Western Isles (22,266). So the ratio of the largest electorate to the smallest is 70. We can compare this with the relative sizes of the States of the United States, which are used as constituencies for the US Senate. The largest state, California, has about 66 times the population of the smallest state, Wyoming. Generally the UK Counties are actually more equally-sized than US States, apart from the Scottish islands. Indeed the rural over-representation in the US Senate costs the average American about 36% of the power of their vote, but the equivalent figure for UK Counties is only 24%.
The over-representation of the rural areas has the political effect of giving an advantage to the Liberal Democrats over the Labour party. (See section six below for more details.) This can be justified on grounds of balance, both because Labour enjoys various advantages in Commons' elections (see Analysis of Con/Lab Gap), and because the Commons arithmetic makes it hard for the third-party to hold power in proportion to its electoral support. That is, if a party consistently gets 20% support, it's average share of power will be less than 20%.

5.2 Electoral system

The choice of proposing the first-past-the-post (FPTP) method as the electoral system has been carefully considered. The main reasons for this choice are as follows:
  • It is clear and straightforward, and is already understood and accepted by British voters.
  • It allows a party to get control of the House of Lords if it enjoys a good level of support in the country.
  • It avoids overdue concentration of power in the hands of smaller parties.
The main problem with some proportional systems, particularly multi-member systems like Party Lists and STV, is that the new chamber can be almost perpetually hung. This could create either permanent gridlock, or hand a considerable amount of power to smaller parties. Evidence of the extent of this problem can be seen in the next section below. Other single-member systems, such as the Alternative Vote (AV), perform similarly to FPTP and can also be considered as a viable method for the House of Lords.
The main argument in favour of proportional systems is that it gives a degree of power to smaller parties. These proposals achieve this by the alternative route of having mixed-size seats (which benefits the smaller nations of the UK), and by the staggered timing of the elections. This increases the chance of a hung chamber, which gives power to smaller parties, but still maintains the ability of major parties to have a majority.

6. Historical analysis of reform proposals in practice

Although theoretical and principled considerations play a strong role in design of the new House of Lords, there is an important place for practical considerations. Any election system which is proposed needs to be tested against actual electoral data to see what the composition of the new chamber would be. A system will only be accepted by the voting public if it is seen to both relatively fair and also to reflect the will of the public. A good system needs to avoid both the problem of perpetual gridlock (a feature of multi-member seats) and the danger of all the power simply going to the largest party in the Commons (the current system).
To measure the effectiveness of various systems, we have conducted an historical analysis using election data over the last thirty years. Under any proposed election system, and at each election date, we estimate the numbers of members elected to the reformed House of Lords. The historical series of such "postdicted" (as opposed to "predicted") results can be compared against the historical composition of the House of Commons. A system will be successful if it is similar but different to the Commons' composition; if it allows a major party to have a majority; if it allows for a hung chamber; and if it remains possible, but more difficult, for a Commons-led government to pass legislation.
We consider four possible systems: the 2012 Bill's proposals, County-based multi-member STV, County-based FPTP, and County-based AV. The full details of these proposals are shown in the table below:
System NameSeat definitionsMembers
per seat
Total SizeElection frequencyElection method
2012 BillTwelve large regions
as defined in the Bill
9-48360 elected
+110 unelected
One third of members every five yearsParty List
County STV80 Historic counties4320All members at each general electionSTV
County FPTP80 Historic counties4320One quarter of members every yearFPTP
County AV80 Historic counties4320One quarter of members every yearAV

6.1 The 2012 Bill's proposals

For each general election since 1983, we calculate the number of seats won by each party in a House of Lords elected according to the method proposed by the 2012 House of Lords Reform Bill. The following assumptions were made: ignore the unelected members; and assume the same public support for Lords as the Commons.
The table below shows the general election results since 1983, alongside the predicted Lords results in terms of numbers of seats won for each party. A party needs 181 seats in the Lords to have a majority.
Election DateCON %LAB %LIB %UKIP %Commons ResultCONLABLIBUKIPNATOTHLords Result
9 Jun 198343.528.326.0-Con majority543329013Lib coalition choice
11 Jun 198743.331.523.1-Con majority523727013Lib coalition choice
9 Apr 199242.835.218.3-Con majority534319023Lib coalition choice
1 May 199731.444.417.2-Lab majority395719023Lab/Lib coalition
7 Jun 200132.742.018.8-Lab majority395322033Lib coalition choice
5 May 200533.236.222.6-Lab majority414725034Lib coalition choice
5 May 201037.029.723.63.2Con/Lib coalition474127023Lib coalition choice
7 May 201537.831.28.112.9Con majority484161563Con/UKIP coalition
It is notable that the Lords is always hung under these proposals. Indeed, it is so finely balanced that the Liberal Democrats can almost always choose who runs the Lords. This is not notably democratic, and is a large drawback with this proposal.

6.2 County seats with multi-member STV

We can now look at an improved version of the proposed Bill. We have changed the seats away from the large regions and use instead the eighty historic counties of the UK. The election method is still a multi-member proportional system, but is now the more democratic single-transferable vote (STV), rather than the undemocratic party list system. All the members are elected at each general election. The results are shown in the table below. A party needs 161 seats in the Lords to have a majority.
Election DateCON %LAB %LIB %UKIP %Commons ResultCONLABLIBUKIPNATOTHLords Result
9 Jun 198343.528.326.0-Con majority128728501124Con/Lib coalition
11 Jun 198743.331.523.1-Con majority12583800824Lib coalition choice
9 Apr 199242.835.218.3-Con majority119996301524Lib coalition choice
1 May 199731.444.417.2-Lab majority851336301524Lab/Lib coalition
7 Jun 200132.742.018.8-Lab majority901256401724Lab/Lib coalition
5 May 200533.236.222.6-Lab majority911108201225Lib coalition choice
5 May 201037.029.723.63.2Con/Lib coalition109948301024Lib coalition choice
7 May 201537.831.28.112.9Con majority11610418302824Hung
Again, there was no time in last thirty years when any party would have a majority in the Lords. It is hard to think that such perpetual gridlock would conform to the wishes of the British voters, and so this proposal should also be rejected.

6.3 County seats with first-past-the-post

Now we change the voting system back to the familiar system used most widely in the UK. The seats are kept as the eighty historic counties, each electing one member (for a four-year term) every year. There are 320 members of the new Lords, and a party needs 161 seats to have a majority. Because there is a Lords election every year, the composition of the new Lords is shown for every year. We have assumed that popular voting shares evolve linearly between general elections.
Election YearCON %LAB %LIB %UKIP %Commons ResultCONLABLIBUKIPNATOTHLords Result
198343.528.525.7-Con majority20076120824Con majority 80
198443.529.025.4-Con majority20470140824Con majority 88
198543.429.824.6-Con majority20468160824Con majority 88
198643.330.623.9-Con majority20468160824Con majority 88
198743.331.523.2-Con majority19971180824Con majority 78
198843.232.222.2-Con majority19277190824Con majority 64
198943.133.021.2-Con majority18781200824Con majority 54
199043.033.720.2-Con majority18285210824Con majority 44
199142.934.519.3-Con majority17891190824Con majority 36
199242.735.318.3-Con majority17396190824Con majority 26
199340.437.118.1-Con majority164104200824Con majority 8
199438.238.917.9-Con majority151116210824Con/Lib coalition
199536.040.817.6-Con majority137127240824Con/Lib coalition
199633.742.617.4-Con majority120142260824Lab/Lib coalition
199731.444.417.2-Lab majority102160260824Lab/Lib coalition
199831.843.817.6-Lab majority89173260824Lab majority 26
199932.143.318.0-Lab majority79183260824Lab majority 46
200032.442.718.4-Lab majority77185260824Lab majority 50
200132.742.118.8-Lab majority82181260724Lab majority 42
200232.840.719.7-Lab majority86176270724Lab majority 32
200333.039.220.7-Lab majority90171280724Lab majority 22
200433.137.721.7-Lab majority95164300724Lab majority 8
200533.236.222.6-Lab majority101155310924Lab/Lib coalition
200634.034.922.80.6Lab majority1081473101024Lab/Lib coalition
200734.733.623.01.3Lab majority1171383001124Lab/Lib coalition
200835.532.323.21.9Lab majority1251312801224Hung
200936. majority1311232901324Hung
201037.029.723.63.2Con/Lib coalition1361163101324Con/Lib coalition
201137. coalition1411122901424Con/Lib coalition
201237.330.317.47.0Con/Lib coalition1461102501524Con/Lib coalition
201337.530.614.39.0Con/Lib coalition1511111901524Con/Lib coalition
201437.630.911.210.9Con/Lib coalition1561131201524Con/Lib coalition
201537.831.28.112.9Con majority158106802424Con/Lib coalition
These results show a clear improvement on the multi-member systems. Major parties can often have a majority in the new House of Lords, but it is not guaranteed. The staggered elections mean that a governing party loses momentum earlier in the Lords. For example, John Major would have lost his majority in the Lords in 1994 (following Black Wednesday in October 1992), and Tony Blair's 2005 victory in the Commons would not have been enough to give a majority in the Lords. In both these cases, political compromises would have to have been made due to the changing mandate from the voters.

6.4 County seats with the Alternative Vote system

This proposal is very similar to the FPTP method of 6.3 above, and retains the features of historical county seats plus annual elections of one quarter of the 320 members. The only change is that each member is elected using the Alternative Vote system rather than first-past-the-post. This gives some advantage to the Liberal Democrats.
Election YearCON %LAB %LIB %UKIP %Commons ResultCONLABLIBUKIPNATOTHLords Result
198343.528.525.7-Con majority194741601224Con majority 68
198443.529.025.4-Con majority197691801224Con majority 74
198543.429.824.6-Con majority198662001224Con majority 76
198643.330.623.9-Con majority197662101224Con majority 74
198743.331.523.2-Con majority193702201124Con majority 66
198843.232.222.2-Con majority189732401024Con majority 58
198943.133.021.2-Con majority18477260924Con majority 48
199043.033.720.2-Con majority18080280824Con majority 40
199142.934.519.3-Con majority17783280824Con majority 34
199242.735.318.3-Con majority16991280824Con majority 18
199340.437.118.1-Con majority159100280924Con/Lib coalition
199438.238.917.9-Con majority1461122801024Con/Lib coalition
199536.040.817.6-Con majority1311252901124Hung
199633.742.617.4-Con majority1171373001224Lab/Lib coalition
199731.444.417.2-Lab majority991533201224Lab/Lib coalition
199831.843.817.6-Lab majority841663401224Lab majority 12
199932.143.318.0-Lab majority721773501224Lab majority 34
200032.442.718.4-Lab majority671813601224Lab majority 42
200132.742.118.8-Lab majority721763701124Lab majority 32
200232.840.719.7-Lab majority761704001024Lab majority 20
200333.039.220.7-Lab majority84160430924Lab/Lib coalition
200433.137.721.7-Lab majority90151470824Lab/Lib coalition
200533.236.222.6-Lab majority95142500924Lab/Lib coalition
200634.034.922.80.6Lab majority1011335201024Lab/Lib coalition
200734.733.623.01.3Lab majority1061255401124Lab/Lib coalition
200835.532.323.21.9Lab majority1121165501324Lib coalition choice
200936. majority1181085601424Lib coalition choice
201037.029.723.63.2Con/Lib coalition1201095301424Lib coalition choice
201137. coalition1201144801424Lib coalition choice
201237.330.317.47.0Con/Lib coalition1251203801324Con/Lib coalition
201337.530.614.39.0Con/Lib coalition1291282701224Hung
201437.630.911.210.9Con/Lib coalition1401261801224Hung
201537.831.28.112.9Con majority1501151002124Hung
The results are also quite similar to FPTP. There are clear periods where a major party has a Lords majority. But there are also increased periods when the Lords is balanced/hung. In fact, it would have had no overall majority for all of the last ten years. This makes the AV system look viable, but probably not preferred as the best democratic outcome. Though it will probably be the favoured choice of the Liberal Democrats.