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Parliamentary Reforms in the
House of Lords
By Chantelle Kaaria…read more

Slide 2

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How it began
1997 saw Labour sharply take matters into their own
hands, taking steps to remove the voting rights of
hereditary peers.
800 or so members were either permanently absentees or
were invariably committed to the Conservative cause.
The number of Labour or Liberal Democrat peers was
extremely limited and the party had also been severely
affected by an incident in 1988 which was to spell the
ultimate demise of the political role of the peerage.
This incident entered the collective memory of the Labour
part so that when they returned to power, it was hardly
surprising that it should occupy their immediate attention .…read more

Slide 3

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Conservatives ATTACK
In 1998, Margaret Thatcher's government was trying to force
through legislation to introduce the Poll Tax in to local
government. This Poll Tax was extremely controversial, seen in
many quarters as unfair as it was not based on the ability to pay.
The whips forced the bill through the House of Commons with
relatively little difficulty
The House of Lords threatened to thwart the government's will.
It was at this stage that the Government decided to persuade
large numbers of hereditary peers to come to London and vote
through the new tax. Many of these peers would not on normal
occasion vote. Yet the plan worked and the legislation was
assed. The days of the hereditary peerage were numbered ,
though no one new it at the time.…read more

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At first the legislation to remove the voting rights of the voting peers
was held up. The Conservatives were evidently unhappy with the
Many meetings, behind close doors, were had to find compromise.
Conservative Leader, William Hague feared that the obstruction of
the voting rights would lead to Labours' even more radical reform.
A limited reform was pushed through:
92 Hereditary Peers were to
remain on a temporary basis
(Less than eight the total)
These peers were to still be a Conservative majority , but the government
now had the opportunity to redress the political balance by creating
many NEW Labour-supporting life peers.…read more

Slide 5

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Lord Wakeham's
Powers of the Lords were to remain substantially unchanged. It was
to be clearly subordinate to the House of Commons.
A minority-possibly as 20% was to be elected by proportional
representation on a regional basis.
There were to be no more hereditary peers in the House
The rest of the House was to be appointed.
An independent Appointments Commission would ensure that
appropriate people were appointed and to prevent the excessive
use of political patronage by party leaders.
The political balance of the House would prevent domination by any
one party. Independent "crossbenchers" would hold the balance of
power.…read more

Slide 6

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Labour's victorious re-election in 2001 encouraged them to complete their reforms they had
made previously.
Everything did not go to plan and year after year in from 2001-2005, attempt after attempt
they failed to get this legislation through:
Tony Blair and Senior Colleagues: Vying for an all-appointed House of Lords. The failure of
this would then prevent it gaining to much authority and therefore influence + Executive
power seriously being threatened by reform.
Most Labour MPs: Most labour MP's supported either a FULLY elected House of Commons
OR one with a fully large elected element.
Liberal Democrats: They insisted the second chamber should be a fully elected by
proportional representation. This could then ultimately act as a counterweight to the power of
government and House of Commons.
Conservatives: After 2001 the Torries hoped that the issue of reform would simply fade into
obscurity OR would be block once again by the peers themselves. The latter was the case
through lack of consensus.
By 2005 the party had decided to make a complete U-turn and decided to support the idea
of a chamber hat was half elected and half appointed .…read more

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