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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were both determined to shake up the system, and in such times the old House of Lords began to look more and more outdated.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 Eighteen: 2012. The House of Lords Reform Bill: Its Fate in the House of Commons

← ii. 566 | ii. 567 → CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

Extract

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, introduced the House of Lords Reform Bill in the Commons to be read a second time on 9 July 2012. He had it, he said, in ‘command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purpose of the Bill’.1 This is a routine statement whenever a bill is presented to parliament.

Nick Clegg then moved that the bill be read a second time. He began by explaining why the upper chamber was in need of reform. There were three simple reasons. The first was that ‘we believe in democracy. We believe that the people who make the laws should be chosen by the people who are subject to those laws.’ The second reason, he said, was that reforms ‘will lead to better laws – the Bill is not just about who legislates, but about how we legislate’. The third reason was ‘simple practicality’. The House of Lords could not carry on along its current path: ‘we need to reform the Lords to keep it functioning and we need to do it soon’. The deputy prime minister then summarized the chief clauses of this long and complicated bill.

← ii. 567 | ii. 568 → The shadow secretary of state, Mr Sadiq Khan (Labour) answered for the Opposition....

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