Show Less
Restricted access

House of Lords Reform: A History

Volume 3. 1960-1969: Reforms Attempted

Peter Raina

Volume 3 of Peter Raina’s magisterial history covers the 1960s and draws on newly released documents. In astonishing detail, it traces new plans drawn up during the Macmillan-Wilson era to reform the House of Lords. ‘Mission impossible,’ a civil servant declared. But when, to remain a Commons MP, Tony Benn insisted on disclaiming an inherited peerage, he started off a fresh willingness to tackle old problems. The Peerages Act 1963 allowed peers the option of disclaimer and, at last, gave equal rights in the Upper House to Scottish and women inheritors.
A Labour government came in, and in 1967 gained the majority needed to embark on bold legislation. But it feared interference, so comprehensive plans were backed for changing the whole complexion of two-chamber politics. Led by Lord Shackleton and the intellectual Richard Crossman, schemes were devised and inter-party talks got under way – at first in a spirit of cooperation. But had the party elites listened to their fiery back-benchers? When a bill was introduced into parliament, the scenes were unforgettable …
This volume tells not just the story, but reveals the intricate thinking of those who wanted to make a bicameral system work in the age of modern party politics.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 7: 1966. Memorandum by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Privy Seal


← 184 | 185 → CHAPTER SEVEN

1966. Memorandum by the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Privy Seal

As the Lord President, and now also responsible for reform, Richard Crossman delegated his job sensibly. He invited various people to submit schemes that could be of interest to the cabinet. With this in view, he wrote to the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Privy Seal to draft a memorandum on the question of Lords reform for the cabinet’s consideration. The memorandum was ready by 23 June 1966.1


Reform of the House of Lords

1. Next month Lord Alport is initiating a debate on the question of reform of the procedure of the House of Lords which may well include wider issues and we ought therefore to know what our colleagues’ view is about these matters. Indeed, we feel that in any case a Labour Government ought to have a policy about the reform of the House of Lords.

2. Apart from minor questions, such as the televising of debates, the two major questions are the question of the powers of the House of Lords and the question of its composition.

← 185 | 186 → Powers

3. The two important powers of the House of Lords are:

a) Its power to decline to approve an Order or Statutory Instrument which requires the approval of both Houses or to disapprove one which is subject to the negative procedure. Such...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.