The number of peers sitting in the House of Lords should be cut by half to around 400, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has suggested.
In an Institute for Government event on modernising Parliament he called it “absurd” that the Lords was significantly larger than the Commons.
And, asked about MPs’ behaviour, he called sexist remarks “lamentable”.
Mr Bercow said he would “welcome” a yellow card system to deal with rowdy MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Mr Bercow made the comments during an hour-long conversation with Institute for Government director Bronwen Maddox on the “making of a modern parliament”.
He said that while he favoured an elected House of Lords, he did not think reform of the second chamber was going to happen “any time soon”.
“One can argue the toss about the size of the House of Commons, but as far as the House of Lords is concerned, it’s frankly patently absurd that the House of Lords is significantly larger than the House of Commons,” he said.
“I don’t say that in a spirit of machismo or personal or institutional pride… but we are the elected chamber.”
While there was “a very good argument for a second chamber” that gives MPs pause for thought “it could most definitely be halved in size – and I think most fair minded people would say, it should be”.
Asked about behaviour of sexist behviour of MPs in the Commons, Mr Bercow said “I do think it’s lamentable”.
Asked if he would like to see a football or rugby-style yellow card system introduced to warn or send offenders out of the chamber for a cooling off period, he replied: “I would rather welcome that.”
‘Basic respect’ needed
Even without new rules, Mr Bercow suggested the whip’s offices of the major parties could “clearly instruct their MPs to stop the catcalling, stop the ad hominem abuse”.
He also called for a “basic level of human respect” among politicians.
Mr Bercow defended his decision to allow Prime Minister’s Questions to run on longer than its allotted half hour, adding: “It’s open to criticism, but in a sense – what’s the hurry?
“This is Parliament. David Cameron very rarely complained, and with great credit to Theresa May, she’s never complained to me about it… and I’ve found her, whatever the criticisms of her or of Jeremy Corbyn, or any other political leader, I’ve found her nothing but courteous in our personal dealings.”
The Speaker said he had allowed PMQs to go on “longer than ever” just before the General Election in June because a large number of MPs were standing down and wanted to ask their last question – some of whom had been in the Commons for decades – “and I thought the House wouldn’t mind”.
In questions about the EU referendum, the Speaker admitted he was “not a great enthusiast” for referendums, arguing that it should not be used “to facilitate effective party management or the crowding out of another political force”.
But he thought David Cameron had been “very honourable” to resign as prime minister after he lost last year’s EU referendum.
“To be fair to David, he was decisive about it – he had put with very considerably greater force the argument for staying in – in a way that Harold Wilson had done so much more timidly back in 1975,” he said.
“And having taken such a strong position and got the opposite result, I think he thought the honourable thing to do was to walk away.”