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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were both determined to shake up the system, and in such times the old House of Lords began to look more and more outdated.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 Seventeen: 2012. The Coalition Government’s House of Lords Reform Bill

← ii. 438 | ii. 439 →CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Extract

At the House of Lords debate on 30 April 2012, Baroness Miller of Hendon had said that she awaited to ‘see whether the Government will be rash enough to introduce the defective House of Lords Reform Bill, which has received absolutely no unequivocal support from the committee set up to consider it’; would it be ‘stupid enough to do so’?1 Lord Crickhowell had expressed himself in a similar tone, saying that it would be ‘political madness and deeply unsound constitutional practice’ were the government to press on with the bill.2

Their fears were soon realized. Ready to be ‘rash’, ‘unsound’ and ‘stupid’, the government went ahead. Its House of Lords Reform Bill – ‘To make provision about the membership of the House of Lords; to make provision about the disclaimer of life peerages; to abolish the jurisdiction of the House of Lords in relation to peerage claims; to make other provision relating to peerage; and for connected purposes’ – was presented by the deputy prime minister, supported by the prime minister, the first secretary of state, William Hague, the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, the secretary of state for justice, Kenneth Clarke, the secretary of state for Scotland, Michael Moore, Danny Alexander, Sir George Young and Mr Mark Harper. It was to be printed on 27 June 2012 and was introduced in the House of Commons on 9 July by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg.3

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