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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were both determined to shake up the system, and in such times the old House of Lords began to look more and more outdated.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 Three: 1979. Mrs Thatcher’s Reservations


← i. 156 | i. 157 →CHAPTER THREE

1979. Mrs Thatcher’s Reservations

Before the general election took place in May 1979, two Labour MPs separately introduced bills in the House of Commons to abolish the hereditary rights of peers in the House of Lords.

Abolition of the House of Lords: Dennis Canavan

On 25 July 1978 the Labour MP Dennis Canavan presented a bill in the House of Commons to ‘provide for the abolition of the House of Lords’.1 The bill was read the first time, and ordered to be read a second time the next day and also to be printed. However, it was not printed, and did not proceed any further.

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