The effectiveness of the HOL

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Party unity in the HOL

Party unity in the HOL is more relaxed because:

  • Peers do not need a party machine to remain in post, as they are unelected/ 
  • This robs the government's ability to discipline or enforce the 'whip' on the HOL. 
  • This is an advantage because before the hereditary were abolished. there was dominance of them in the HOL:
    • This meant that the Conservatives effectively enjoyed an in built majority in the Lords. 
    • E.g. Thatcher used the HOL to back the Poll Tax. 
  • However, the Labour Govt of 1997, confronted a consistently hostile 2nd chamber. 
  • Therefore, the HOL's checking power was used in a highly partisan way. 
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Legitimacy in the HOL

The HOL has gained more legitimacy because:

  • The removal of most hereditary peers has encouraged members of the HOL to assert their authority. 
  • As a result, peers are more willing to challenge the govt, because they now feel that the Lords is more constituted. 

However, it could be argued that HOL is still illegitimate because:

  • They are an unelected chamber, and therefore do not represent the consent of the people. 
  • They have an input in the legislative process, but the people have not really allowed them to do so. 
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Commons vs Lords majority

Until 2000, the Conservative Party mainly had control of the Lords:

  • This meant that the Conservatives enjoyed an in built majority in the Lords, and ready made support from them. 
    • E.g. During the 1979-1997 Conservative Govts, the average of the no. of Lords' defeats per session was just over 13. 
  • This was due to the majority of the Lords being hereditary peers, and therefore alligned with the Tories. 


  • Since the hereditary peers has been abolished, the current composition of the Lords has been a balance between the Conservative and Labour representation. 
  • Some peers argued that they had a duty to check the government of day. 
  • This was because the HOC had become so ineffective in this respent, due to landslide majorities. 
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