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Ensure the work of the House of Lords remains relevant and effective

Last updated: 02:39pm 8 December 2019

We have already undertaken reform to allow the retirement of peers and the expulsion of members for poor conduct and will continue to ensure the work of the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.43

Our verdict

The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK parliament. Its role is to complement the work of the House of Commons by examining and shaping laws, while checking the government’s work. It is composed of 793 peers, the majority appointed by the monarch or the Prime Minister, although some 90 hereditary peers remain. Since the 19th century, there have been multiple attempts to reform the mechanisms and functions of the House of Lords. Most recently, the House of Lord Reform Act 2014 and the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 introduced procedures for the resignation, suspension and expulsion of members under specific circumstances. This policy promised to continue that line of work, ensuring the House of Lords remains relevant and effective by addressing issues such as its size.

In 2016, the House of Lords created the Lord Speaker’s committee to examine how the House could be reduced in size. The committee published its report in October 2017, with recommendations to reduce the House of Lords to 600 members on 15-year appointments, with no political majority and 20% independent members.

In February 2018, the Prime Minister responded to the committee’s report, indicating that the issue needs further consideration, whilst reaffirming her commitment to exercising restraint in making new appointments.

In June 2018, the Petitions Committee scheduled a debate on an e-petition calling for a referendum on the abolition of the House of Lords (a clear way to guarantee a reduction in size). The government responded to the e-petition, stating that comprehensive reform is not a priority.

The Prime Minister considered the recommendations of the Lord Speaker’s committee and said they required more consideration. We think that’s only the beginning of an attempt at “addressing issues such as its size”, so this policy remains ‘in progress’.

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