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House of Lords Reform: A History

Volume 1. The Origins to 1937: Proposals Deferred- Book One: The Origins to 1911- Book Two: 1911–1937

Peter Raina

One of the peculiarities of British history is the development of a constitution headed by the Crown and the two Houses of Parliament. This system emerged to become a balance of democracy, efficiency and moderation that became the admiration of the world.
The contribution of the House of Lords to this balance is all too often overlooked. In this richly documented two-volume work, the author offers a detailed examination of the Lords’ constitutional position and the predicament they faced as the Commons increasingly championed popular rule. With a landowning membership based on the hereditary principle, the Lords struggled to adapt. Yet, valiant attempts were made. The author gives us the first thorough, full-length history of the Lords’ ambiguous responses to the new democracy and the stream of arguments, proposals and bills raised for reform of their House.
Drawing on speeches, letters, reports and memoranda of the times (some never previously published), the book brings to life the inner wranglings and arresting personalities, the hopes and anxieties and the sheer frustrations of a House divided between entrenched interests and idealism, and often threatened by progressives outside.
The two books in Volume One cover the period from the medieval origins of the House of Lords and proceed, through many tumultuous events, to the outbreak of the Second World War.


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I. Archival Sources Bull papers: House of Lords Record Of fice, London. Cabinet papers: House of Lords Record Of fice, London; the National Archives, London. Conservative Party papers: Bodleian Library, Oxford. Dawson MSS: Bodleian Library, Oxford. Knollys papers: Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, Windsor. Linlithgow papers: The National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh. Ponsonby MSS: Bodleian Library, Oxford. Salisbury papers: Hatfield House, Hertfordshire. Selborne MSS: Bodleian Library, Oxford. Stamfordham papers: Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, Windsor. II. Published and Unpublished Works Adonis, Andrew, Making Aristocracy Work: The Peerage and the Political System in Britain, 1884–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993) Anderson, Olive, ‘The Wensleydale peerage case and the position of the House of Lords in the mid-nineteenth century’, The English Historical Review, Vol. 82, no. CCCXXIV, July 1967 Anon, The Rolliad (London: J. Ridgeway, 1795) Annual Register 1793 (London: Rivington, 1806) Anson, William R., The Law and Custom of the Constitution. Vol. 1: Parliament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 5th edition 1922) Ballinger, Chris, An Analysis of the Reform of the House of Lords, 1906–11 (D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 2006) 608 Bibliography Blackstone, William, Commentaries on the Laws of England (5th edition, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1773) Blom, H.W., Blockmans, W.P. and de Schepper, H. (eds), Bicameralism (s-Gravenhage: Sdu Uitgeverij Koninginnegracht, 1992) Bogdanor, Vernon, The Monarchy and the Constitution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) Boyce, George (ed.), The Crisis of British Unionism: Lord Selborne’s Domestic Papers, 1885–1922 (London: Historians’ Press, 1987) Brett, Maurice (ed.), The Journals and Letters of Viscount Esher (London: Ivor...

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