House of Lords Reform Bill

Status of the bill:  This bill has been withdrawn.

Main purpose of the bill: To make provision about the membership of the House of Lords; to make provision about the disclaimer of life peerages; to abolish the jurisdiction of the House of Lords in relation to peerage claims; to make other provision relating to peerage; and for connected purposes.

Main points of the bill:

Reduces the size of the House of Lords

Composition of the House

Creates a mainly elected chamber.

Provides for the new composition of the House to be achieved in three phases:
In the first electoral period the House of Lords is to consist of 120 elected members, 30 appointed members, up to 21 Lords Spiritual, any ministerial members, and the transitional members for that period.
In the second electoral period the House of Lords is to consist of 240 elected members, 60 appointed members, up to 16 Lords Spiritual, any ministerial members, and the transitional members for that period.
In each subsequent electoral period the House of Lords is to consist of 360 elected members, 90 appointed members, up to 12 Lords Spiritual, and any ministerial members.

Breaks the link between a peerage and automatic membership of the House of Lords. However, peers are not disqualified from membership of either House, or from voting in elections to either House.

Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949

Confirms that the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 (which set out circumstances in which Royal Assent may be given to legislation without the consent of the House of Lords) will continue to apply, despite the changes to the House of Lords made by this Act.

Repeals the preamble to the Parliament Act 1911.

Elected members

Provides for House of Lords elections to be held at the same time as House of Commons general elections (the first being on or after 7 May 2015) except where a Commons general election falls within a two year period of the previous House of Lords election.

Specifies the electoral districts into which the UK will be divided for House of Lords elections, these being the East Midlands, Eastern, London, North East, North West, South East, South West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Provides for 120 ordinary elected members to be returned at each House of Lords election and specifies how many ordinary elected members are to be returned for each district.

Provides for members to be elected in Great Britain by an open list system under which a single registered party submits a list of candidates from their party standing in a particular district; a person may not be on more than one party list. Votes may be cast for a party, a party candidate, or an independent candidate not on a list. A single transferable vote system is to be used in Northern Ireland.

Specifies that people entitled to vote in a House of Commons general election will also be entitled to vote in a House of Lords election.

Provides the relevant Minister with powers to make secondary legislation about the conduct of House of Lords elections and other matters relating to those elections.

Outlines provisions for the interim replacement and replacement of elected members when an unexpected vacancy occurs.

Appointed members

Provides for the establishment of a House of Lords Appointments Commission, to consist of seven members appointed by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, to serve for a fixed term of ten years. A Minister may not be appointed as a Commissioner.

Provides for the establishment of a Speakers' Committee on the House of Lords Appointments Commission. The Speakers’ Committee is to consist of the Speaker of the House of Commons; the Speaker of the House of Lords; a Minister with responsibilities for constitutional matters; four members of the House of Lords who are not Ministers; four members of the House of Commons who are not Ministers; and the chairs of the relevant committees in the Commons and the Lords.

Provides for 30 ordinary appointed members of the House of Lords to be appointed in each electoral period, to serve for three electoral periods. The appointments are to be made by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The Appointments Commission, during the first 14 days of an electoral period, is required to select, on the basis of fair and open competition, 30 people from a diverse range of backgrounds for recommendation to the Prime Minister, who must then pass on those 30 recommendations to Her Majesty.

Makes provision for the replacement of appointed members when an unexpected vacancy occurs.

Lords Spiritual

Provides for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of London, the Bishop of Durham and the Bishop of Winchester to be members of the House of Lords, to serve as long as they hold those named offices. (named Lords Spiritual).

Provides for the Church of England to select for each electoral period bishops who do not hold a named office to be members of the House of Lords as ordinary Lords Spiritual. The maximum number that may be selected is 16 for the first electoral period, 11 for the second, and 7 for each subsequent electoral period.

Makes provision for replacement of an ordinary Lord Spiritual when an unexpected vacancy occurs.

Ministerial Members

Provides for people who are not members of either House of Parliament to be appointed to serve as ministerial members for three electoral periods. The appointments to be made by Her Majesty on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Transitional Members

Provides for the maximum number of transitional members in the first electoral period to be two thirds of the number of peers entitled to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords on 27 June 2012, the date of the introduction of the Bill.
Provides for the maximum number of transitional members in the second electoral period to be one third of the number of peers who, on 27 June 2012, were entitled to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords.

Specifies that the selection of transitional members will be made in accordance with standing orders of the House of Lords.

Disqualification

Sets out the circumstances under which a person may be disqualified from being a member of the House of Lords; these include nationality, insolvency, imprisonment for a criminal offence, holding a disqualifying office, aged under 18 at the time of nomination or selection, corrupt or illegal electoral practices

Sets out the circumstances under which a disqualification may be disregarded.

Provides for the Privy Council to have jurisdiction in certain matters relating to disqualification.

Disqualifies members of the House of Lords from membership of the House of Commons.

Disqualifies a member of the House of Lords from being elected a member of the House of Commons for a period of 4 years and one month from the day they cease to be an elected, appointed, or transitional member of the House of Lords.

Prevents candidates from standing for election to both Houses at the same time.

General Provisions about Membership

Provides for members of the House of Lords to be entitled to receive a writ of summons to attend the House of Lords in relation to each Parliament which meets while the person is a member. (No person may sit or vote in the House of Lords without having received a writ of summons.)

Outlines the circumstances under which the writ of summons has no effect.

Provides for the existence of vacancies among the elected or appointed members or Lords Spiritual to be certified by the Clerk of the Parliaments, and requires the House of Lords to make standing orders setting out the circumstances in which the Clerk of the Parliaments must issue a certificate.

Provides for standing orders of the House of Lords to make provision for the House of Lords to expel or suspend a member.

Allows members of the House of Lords, other than a named Lord Spiritual, to resign at any time from being a member by notifying the Clerk of the Parliaments.

Amends the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 to provide that certain members of the House of Lords are to be paid by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (the IPSA) for their participation in the work of the House.

Provides for the IPSA to set the amount of pay; provides for members to claim allowances under a scheme prepared by the IPSA; and provides for pay and allowances to be administered by the IPSA.

Requires the IPSA to prepare guidance for members of the House of Lords in relation to pay, (including what counts as participation in the work of the House for those purposes), making claims under the House of Lords allowances scheme, and taxation.

Provides for the IPSA to be required to prepare and publish a report on the merits of whether a pension scheme should be established for members of the House of Lords.

Provides for a person who is a member of the House of Lords for any part of a tax year to be treated for the purposes of income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax as resident, ordinarily resident and domiciled in the United Kingdom for the whole of that tax year.

Miscellaneous and General

Confirms that nothing in the Bill affects parliamentary privilege.

Removes any remaining disqualification of peers from voting in elections, or being elected, to either House of Parliament.

Enables life peers to disclaim their peerage.

Abolishes the jurisdiction of the House of Lords in relation to peerage claims and provides that any peerage claim is to be made to Her Majesty in Council.
 

Progress of the bill:

The House of Lords Reform Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 9th May 2012.

Commons:
First Reading: 27.06.12  Second Reading: 09.07.12  10.07.12

This bill has been withdrawn.