House of Lords- Require a Reform?

Topics: House of Lords, Parliament of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom Pages: 12 (3936 words) Published: November 15, 2008

“…reform of the House of Lords remains unfinished business. There are still 92 hereditary peers sitting in the Lords. But ending the anomaly, in the Government’s view, does not go far enough to ensure that Britain’s second chamber is fit to meet the demands and expectations of this century. The legitimacy and authority of the second chamber continued to be called into question”

The Rt. Hon. Jack Straw, former leader of the House of Commons, The House of Lords: Reform, February 2007

In recent years there have been many attempts to reform the House of Lords. Critically analyse this situation with view of the reforms that have already taken place, and how this will affect the Westminster parliament

Acts of Union 1707 & 1800
Bill of Rights 1689
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Sect 2, 23 & 61
House of Lords Act 1999
Sect 1, 2(1) & (2)
Life Peerages Act 1958
Sect 1
Magna Carta
Parliamentary Act 1911
Sect 1 & 2
Parliamentary Act 1949
Sect 1
Peerage Act 1963
Sect 1, 4 & 6
Reform Act 1831


Two houses reside within the courts of the Parliament, namely the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Lords is known as the Upper House or the Second Chamber of Parliament of the United Kingdom and it plays a vital role in governing the government. Within the Parliament, both houses have the duty to scrutinise, make and amend law; however with the passing of time the House of Lords had had many reforms that lead to their decrement in power. Currently in the House of Commons, elected representatives of political parties sit in and is more superior compared to the House of Lords, where appointed and a marginal number of hereditary peers by Her Royal Majesty, the Queen sit in.

History of the Parliament - Historical Timeline of reforms in the Lords

Countless attempts have taken place in the English legal history to reform the House of Lords, and many have succeeded in achieving their purpose. The Parliament or the Curia Regis came into existence during the reign of William of Normandy, the house of Anglo-Saxon Witenagemot of 1066, where he sought the advice of his councils of tenants-in-chiefs and ecclesiastics in making the law. At that time, the Commons comprised of men from shires and boroughs and the Lords, comprised of religious leaders (Lord Spiritual) and magnates (Lord Temporal). By 1215, the Commons managed to secure a charter that would require the king to seek advice from his royal council on the issue of taxes, it was known as the Magna Carta.[1] At the peek of the 16th century, the writ-summoned Lords Temporal mainly consisted of peers with ranks of Dukes, Marquess, Viscount, Earl and Barons who over populated the Lords Spiritual who consisted of bishops, abbots and priors due to the suppression of the monasteries. House of Lords was at its zenith of power in the Parliament during the middle of the 15th century, nonetheless the Commons influence grew steadfastly.

With the reign of Charles I, son of King James I, the English Civil War erupted which lead to the execution of Charles and the monarchy being overthrown, forming a republic called the Commonwealth, and Oliver Cromwell as their leader. At this point it showed the growing and evolving power of the Parliament, however it was not of the Lords but of the Commons. The Lords ceased to exist (abolished by an act of parliament) until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. Consequently, the authority of the Parliament overgrew the monarch and soon led to the passing of the Bill of Rights 1689.[2] The peers within the House of Lords grew in numbers with the union of the Kingdom of Scotland and Ireland under the Acts of Union of 1707[3] and 1800.[4]

By the 19th century, peers within the house had multiplied enormously under King George III,...

Bibliography: 2. Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy Seal ‘House of Lords: Reforms’ (February 2007)
4. Strickland, Pat (et. al) ‘House of Lords reform – the 2001 White Paper’ Research Paper 02/002 (8 January 2008)
6. Joint Committee on the House of Lords Reform ‘House of Lords Reform: first Report’ (9th of December 2002)
8. Department for Constitutional Affairs Consultation Paper ‘Constitutional Reform: Next Step for the House of Lords’ (September 2003)
Lords ‘A House for the Future’ (January 2000)
12. Dorey, Peter ‘1949, 1969, 1999: The Labour Party and House of Lords
[2] Bill of Rights 1689 c.2
[3] The Treaty (or Act) of Union, 1707 (4 pages), 8 October 2008
[4] An Act for the Union for Great Britain and Ireland, (2008) 12 pages, 15 October 2008 <>
[5] Parliament Act 1911 c.13
[8] Peerage Acit 1963 c.48
[9] Clarke, Chris and Laura Venning ‘House of Lords Reform since 1997: A Chronology (Updated July 2008)’(78 pages, pg 2) 1st October 2008 <>
[12] House of Lords: Reform(February 2007), (62 pages, pg 14 para 3.32)
[13] Strickland, Pat and Oonagh Gay ‘House of LordsReform: the 2001 White Paper’ (8th January 2002), (44 pages)
[20] Kelly, Richard ‘House of Lords Reform: 2007 White Paper’ (19th March 2007), (32 pages)
[21] Id (pg 5, 2.a )
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