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House of Lords Reform: A History

Volume 1. The Origins to 1937: Proposals Deferred- Book One: The Origins to 1911- Book Two: 1911–1937

Peter Raina

One of the peculiarities of British history is the development of a constitution headed by the Crown and the two Houses of Parliament. This system emerged to become a balance of democracy, efficiency and moderation that became the admiration of the world.
The contribution of the House of Lords to this balance is all too often overlooked. In this richly documented two-volume work, the author offers a detailed examination of the Lords’ constitutional position and the predicament they faced as the Commons increasingly championed popular rule. With a landowning membership based on the hereditary principle, the Lords struggled to adapt. Yet, valiant attempts were made. The author gives us the first thorough, full-length history of the Lords’ ambiguous responses to the new democracy and the stream of arguments, proposals and bills raised for reform of their House.
Drawing on speeches, letters, reports and memoranda of the times (some never previously published), the book brings to life the inner wranglings and arresting personalities, the hopes and anxieties and the sheer frustrations of a House divided between entrenched interests and idealism, and often threatened by progressives outside.
The two books in Volume One cover the period from the medieval origins of the House of Lords and proceed, through many tumultuous events, to the outbreak of the Second World War.
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Chapter 23: The House of Lords’ Select Committee: 1908

Extract

← i. 440 | i. 441 → CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

The House of Lords’ Select Committee: 1908

The Commons’ resolution of 24 June 1907 worried the Lords so much that they decided to establish a select committee under the chairmanship of the Earl of Rosebery to recommend necessary reforms to their House. The chairman asked the various members of the committee to submit their suggestions. On 1 July 1908 Lord Rosebery, together with Lord Curzon,1 wrote to the members of the committee submitting their ‘Suggestions with regard to official and life Peerages’:2

Confidential

Select committee on the House of Lords

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