"A bill will be brought forward to reform the composition of the House of Lords"
06 June 2022 07:00 PM

House of Lords Reform

06 June 2022

The House of Lords is the second chamber of Parliament and is also called the Upper House. Because it is not elected, it does not have the same powers as the Commons, but it retains the right to revise and scrutinise the Government’s actions and legislation.

The 800 Peers who sit in it are said to have independent minds and extensive expertise and thereby form a crucial check on the power of the executive in Parliament. However the House of Lords is much more likely to wield this power by asking Ministers to think again, rather than to veto whole pieces of legislation.

Members of the Lords fall into the following three categories: Life Peers, the remaining elected hereditary Peers (collectively the Lords Temporal), and Church of England archbishops and Bishops (the Lords Spiritual).

The majority of peers are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister or of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

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The House of Lords is the second largest, second Chamber in the World, after the National People’s Congress of China.

Criticisms of the House of Lords

Supporters of the House of Lords point to its role as a useful check on the power of the Executive, and suggest that the expertise possessed by its members after their range of distinguished careers, helps with the accountability of power and the effective scrutiny of proposed legislation.

There is however a strong body of opinion that argues for reform of the current composition and operation of the House of Lords. As detailed in the History section below, during the last two decades there have already been a number of reforms to the composition of the House of Lords.

Aside from the democratic arguments made by those calling for a fully elected second chamber, a number of specific criticisms are also levelled at the current House of Lords.

It is suggested that rather than being composed of distinguished and eminent experts from a range of fields, the House of Lords is still too overtly dominated by political appointees. In particular attention, attention is drawn to the high volume of ex MPs and former government political advisors sitting in the the Chamber.

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