The House of Lords

The House of Lords

The House of Lords, along with the House of Commons, is the lynchpin of the British political system. The House of Lords was for centuries the senior of the two Houses but in 1911 and 1949 acts were introduced that greatly reduced the power of the Lords. The Labour government from 1997 on has also used its time in power to reform the makeup of the House of Lords.

 

The House of Lords first sat as a separate House in the C14th. In the C15th the Lords Temporal (Lords appointed by the Monarch) became known as peers. Lords Spiritual were appointed from members of the Church. Peers from Scotland (1707) and Ireland (1800) were entitled to elect representatives to sit in the Lords.

 

In 1834, the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire. The new building was designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin and the Lords first sat in their new chamber in 1847.

 

In 1876, the Appellate Jurisdiction Act introduced Law Lords (Lords of Appeal in Ordinary) who became the final Court of Appeal in the UK.

 

The power of the House of Lords was such that any bill passed in the House of Commons could be defeated and therefore rejected in the House of Lords. This meant that on occasions the Commons had to adjust a bill so that it was acceptable to the Lords and would therefore be passed. However, with society rapidly changing at the start of the Twentieth Century, it was only a matter of time before a clash occurred between both Houses.

 

This clash came in 1909. The Lords refused to pass the budget prepared by David Lloyd George, Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. This so-called ‘People’s Budget’ had been touted as a mainstay of what was to become the Welfare State. There were many in the Liberal Party – who had won an overwhelming victory in the 1906 General Election – who saw the Lords as peers who simply abused their power and privilege. Over the next two years a campaign was started to reduce the power of the Lords. This culminated with the 1911 Parliament Act. The Lords still had the right to scrutinise bills passed by the Commons but they could no longer kill off a bill. The Lords could only reject a bill three times within one year. After this it became law. The 1949 Parliament Act ended the right of the Lords to stop any ‘money bills’.

 

In 1958, women were allowed to sit in the Lords for the first time.

 

The next important stage in the Lords development came when Labour was elected in 1997. Their manifesto stated that reform of the House of Lords was a major part of their agenda. In 1999 the House of Lords Act was passed. This act removed from the Lords all but 92 hereditary peers and introduced into the Lords a majority of appointed peers. In 2003, the Commons was given three choices as to how the Lords could develop – one choice included scrapping the Lords altogether. All three choices were rejected. In 

The House of Lords, along with the House of Commons, is the lynchpin of the British political system. The House of Lords was for centuries the senior of the two Houses but in 1911 and 1949 acts were introduced that greatly reduced the power of the Lords. The Labour government from 1997 on has also used its time in power to reform the makeup of the House of Lords.

 

The House of Lords first sat as a separate House in the C14th. In the C15th the Lords Temporal (Lords appointed by the Monarch) became known as peers. Lords Spiritual were appointed from members of the Church. Peers from Scotland (1707) and Ireland (1800) were entitled to elect representatives to sit in the Lords.

 

In 1834, the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by fire. The new building was designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin and the Lords first sat in their new chamber in 1847.

 

In 1876, the Appellate Jurisdiction Act introduced Law Lords (Lords of Appeal in Ordinary) who became the final Court of Appeal in the UK.

 

The power of the House of Lords was such that any bill passed in the House of Commons could be defeated and therefore rejected in the House of Lords. This meant that on occasions the Commons had to adjust a bill so that it was acceptable to the Lords and would therefore be passed. However, with society rapidly changing at the start of the Twentieth Century, it was only a matter of time before a clash occurred between both Houses.

 

This clash came in 1909. The Lords refused to pass the budget prepared by David Lloyd George, Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. This so-called ‘People’s Budget’ had been touted as a mainstay of what was to become the Welfare State. There were many in the Liberal Party – who had won an overwhelming victory in the 1906 General Election – who saw the Lords as peers who simply abused their power and privilege. Over the next two years a campaign was started to reduce the power of the Lords. This culminated with the 1911 Parliament Act. The Lords still had the right to scrutinise bills passed by the Commons but they could no longer kill off a bill. The Lords could only reject a bill three times within one year. After this it became law. The 1949 Parliament Act ended the right of the Lords to stop any ‘money bills’.

 

In 1958, women were allowed to sit in the Lords for the first time.

 

The next important stage in the Lords development came when Labour was elected in 1997. Their manifesto stated that reform of the House of Lords was a major part of their agenda. In 1999 the House of Lords Act was passed. This act removed from the Lords all but 92 hereditary peers and introduced into the Lords a majority of appointed peers. In 2003, the Commons was given three choices as to how the Lords could develop – one choice included scrapping the Lords altogether. All three choices were rejected. In February 2007, the Leader of the House, Jack Straw, presented his version of how the Lords could develop. This would be a House with a 50/50 split between elected and appointed peers. The elected peers would introduce an element of democracy into the House while appointed peers would have a field of expertise to bring into the Lords. , the Leader of the House, Jack Straw, presented his version of how the Lords could develop. This would be a House with a 50/50 split between elected and appointed peers. The elected peers would introduce an element of democracy into the House while appointed peers would have a field of expertise to bring into the Lords.


MLA Citation/Reference

"The House of Lords". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2007. Web.






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