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House of Lords Reform: A History

Volume 4. 1971–2014: The Exclusion of Hereditary Peers – Book 1: 1971–2001 – Book 2: 2002–2014

Peter Raina

Peter Raina’s magnificent history of Lords reform has already brought into the public domain a mass of original documents and thrown light on the debates they fuelled. In Volume 4 he brings his study up to the present age.
The Thatcher and Blair governments were both determined to shake up the system, and in such times the old House of Lords began to look more and more outdated. Mrs Thatcher’s inaction on the issue only increased calls for abolition or change. So the Blair government grasped the nettle. In one historic Act of Parliament it ejected hereditary peers from the House – except for 92 saved by a last-minute amendment. The negotiations and reactions surrounding this event are recorded here in lively detail.
This concluding book brings Peter Raina’s History of Lords’ Reform up to the end of 2014. It follows on from the banishment of hereditary peers from the House in the name of democracy. This was proclaimed as only the start of more sweeping change. What was to happen next?
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Chapter Two: 1977–79. Lords Reform: Earl Home’s Review Committee


← i. 18 | i. 19 →CHAPTER TWO

1977–79. Lords Reform: Earl Home’s Review Committee

Margaret Thatcher took over the leadership of the Conservative Party in February 1975. Personally she exhibited little interest in changing the House of Lords, but under pressure from such influencial party leaders as Carrington, Home and Hailsham she began to understand the argument they put forward, that the Labour Party might one day want to abolish or totally emasculate the House of Lords, and that the Conservative Party must be ready to include in its next election manifesto alternative proposals for a reformed Second Chamber to be constituted on a popular basis. Mrs Thatcher took a long time to be convinced, but in January 1977 (a general election being only two years away) she appointed a review committee under the chairmanship of the Earl of Home to ‘review the future’ of the House of Lords. James Douglas, Consultative Director of the Conservative Research Department, was to act as secretary to the committee. We expose to view the full history of its proceedings.1

← i. 19 | i. 20 →Membership of the Committee


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