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Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons , it meets in the Palace of Westminster. The Lords Spiritual are 26 archbishops and bishops in the established Church of England. Membership was once an entitlement of all hereditary peers, other than those in the peerage of Ireland , but the House of Lords Act restricted it to 92 hereditary peers. Most hereditary peerages can be inherited only by men.

While the House of Commons has a defined number of members, the number of members in the House of Lords is not fixed. Currently, it has sitting members. The House of Lords is the only upper house of any bicameral parliament in the world to be larger than its lower house, [8] and is the second-largest legislative chamber in the world behind the Chinese National People's Congress.

The House of Lords scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons. While members of the Lords may also take on roles as government ministers, high-ranking officials such as cabinet ministers are usually drawn from the Commons. In addition to its role as the upper house, until the establishment of the Supreme Court in , the House of Lords, through the Law Lords , acted as the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom judicial system.

Today's Parliament of the United Kingdom largely descends, in practice, from the Parliament of England , through the Treaty of Union of and the Acts of Union that ratified the Treaty in and created a new Parliament of Great Britain to replace the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland.

This new parliament was, in effect, the continuation of the Parliament of England with the addition of 45 MPs and 16 Peers to represent Scotland. The first English Parliament is often considered to be the " Model Parliament " held in , which included archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, and representatives of the shires and boroughs.

The power of Parliament grew slowly, fluctuating as the strength of the monarchy grew or declined. For example, during much of the reign of Edward II � , the nobility was supreme, the Crown weak, and the shire and borough representatives entirely powerless.

In , the authority of Parliament was for the first time recognised not simply by custom or royal charter, but by an authoritative statute, passed by Parliament itself. During the reign of Edward II's successor, Edward III , Parliament clearly separated into two distinct Washington Court House Utility Payment Validity chambers : the House of Commons consisting of the shire and borough representatives and the House of Lords consisting of the archbishops, bishops, abbots and peers.

The authority of Parliament continued to grow, and during the early 15th century both Houses exercised powers to an extent not seen before.

The Lords were far more powerful than the Commons because of the great influence of the great landowners and the prelates of the realm. The power of the nobility declined during the civil wars of the late 15th century, known as the Wars of the Roses. Much of the nobility was killed on the battlefield or executed for participation in the war, and many aristocratic estates were lost to the Crown. Moreover, Pay White House Utility District Email feudalism was dying, and the feudal armies controlled by the barons became obsolete.

Henry VII � clearly established the supremacy of the monarch, symbolised by the "Crown Imperial". The domination of the Sovereign continued to grow during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs in the 16th century. The House of Lords remained more powerful than the House of Commons, but the Lower House continued to grow in influence, reaching a zenith in relation to the House of Lords during the middle 17th century.

Conflicts between the King and the Parliament for the most part, the House of Commons ultimately led to the English Civil War during the s. In , after the defeat and execution of King Charles I , the Commonwealth of England was declared, but the nation was effectively under the overall control of Oliver Cromwell , Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. The House of Lords was reduced to a largely powerless body, with Cromwell and his supporters in the Commons dominating the Government.

On 19 March , the House of Lords was abolished by an Act of Parliament, which declared that "The Commons of England [find] by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England. It returned to its former position as the more powerful chamber of Parliament�a position it would occupy until the 19th century.

The 19th century was marked by several changes to the House of Lords. The House, once a body of only about 50 members, had been greatly enlarged by the liberality of George III and his successors in creating peerages.

The individual influence of a Lord of Parliament was thus diminished. Moreover, the power of the House as a whole decreased, whilst that of the House of Commons grew.

Particularly notable in the development of the Lower House's superiority was the Reform Bill of The electoral system of the House of Commons was far from democratic: property qualifications greatly restricted the size of the electorate, and the boundaries of many constituencies had not been changed for centuries.

Entire cities such as Manchester had not even one representative in the House of Commons, while the 11 voters living in Old Sarum retained their ancient right to elect two MPs. A small borough was susceptible to bribery, and was often under the control of a patron, whose nominee was guaranteed to win an election. Some aristocrats were patrons of numerous " pocket boroughs ", and therefore controlled a considerable part of the membership of the House of Commons.

When the House of Commons passed a Reform Bill to correct some of these anomalies in , the House of Lords rejected the proposal. The popular cause of reform, however, was not abandoned by the ministry, despite a second rejection of the bill in William IV originally balked at the proposal, which effectively threatened the opposition of the House of Lords, but at length relented. Before the new peers were created, however, the Lords who opposed the bill admitted defeat and abstained from the vote, allowing the passage of the bill.

The crisis damaged the political influence of the House of Lords but did not altogether end it. A vital reform was effected by the Lords themselves in , when they changed their standing orders to abolish proxy voting, preventing Lords from voting without taking the trouble to attend.

The status of the House of Lords returned to the forefront of debate after the election of a Liberal Government in In the Chancellor of the Exchequer , David Lloyd George , introduced into the House of Commons the " People's Budget ", which proposed a land tax targeting wealthy landowners. The popular measure, however, was defeated in the heavily Conservative House of Lords. Having made the powers of the House of Lords a primary campaign issue, the Liberals were narrowly re-elected in January The Liberals had lost most of their support in Lords, which was routinely rejecting Liberals bills.

Prime Minister H. Asquith then proposed that the powers of the House of Lords be severely curtailed. After a further general election in December , and with a reluctant promise by King George V to create sufficient new Liberal peers to overcome Lords' opposition to the measure if necessary, the Asquith Government secured the passage of a bill to curtail the powers of the House of Lords. It was not meant to be a permanent solution; more comprehensive reforms were planned.

The Parliament Act reduced the delaying power of the House of Lords further to two sessions or one year. In the predominantly hereditary nature of the House of Lords was changed by the Life Peerages Act , which authorised the creation of life baronies, with no numerical limits.

The number of Life Peers then gradually increased, though not at a constant rate. The Labour Party had, for most of the 20th century, a commitment, based on the party's historic opposition to class privilege, to abolish the House of Lords, or at least expel the hereditary element. In the Labour Government of Harold Wilson attempted to reform the House of Lords by introducing a system under which hereditary peers would be allowed to remain in the House and take part in debate, but would be unable to vote.

This plan, however, was defeated in the House of Commons by a coalition of traditionalist Conservatives such as Enoch Powell , and Labour members who continued to advocate the outright abolition of the Upper House such as Michael Foot.

When Michael Foot became leader of the Labour Party in , abolition of the House of Lords became a part of the party's agenda; under his successor, Neil Kinnock , however, a reformed Upper House was proposed instead.

In the meantime, the creation of hereditary peerages except for members of the Royal Family has been arrested, with the exception of three creations during the administration of the Conservative Margaret Thatcher in the s. Whilst some hereditary peers were at best apathetic, the Labour Party's clear commitments were not lost on Merlin Hanbury-Tracy, 7th Baron Sudeley , who for decades was considered an expert on the House of Lords.

There were no women sitting in the House of Lords until , when a small number came into the chamber as a result of the Life Peerages Act One of these was Irene Curzon, 2nd Baroness Ravensdale , who had inherited her father's peerage in and was made a life peer to enable her to sit. After a campaign stretching back in some cases to the s, another twelve women who held hereditary peerages in their own right were admitted by the Peerage Act The Labour Party included in its general election manifesto a commitment to remove the hereditary peerage from the House of Lords.

The Labour Government introduced legislation to expel all hereditary peers from the Upper House as a first step in Lords reform. As a part of a compromise, however, it agreed to permit 92 hereditary peers to remain until the reforms were complete.

Thus all but 92 hereditary peers were expelled under the House of Lords Act see below for its provisions , making the House of Lords predominantly an appointed house. Since , however, no further reform has taken place. Socialist MPs favouring outright abolition voted against all the options. Most of the remainder were to be appointed by a Commission to ensure a mix of "skills, knowledge and experience".

This proposal was also not implemented. A cross-party campaign initiative called " Elect the Lords " was set up to make the case for a predominantly elected Second Chamber in the run up to the general election.

At the election, the Labour Party proposed further reform of the Lords, but without specific details. During , a cross-party committee discussed Lords reform, with the aim of reaching a consensus: its findings were published in early On 7 March , members of the House of Commons voted ten times on a variety of alternative compositions for the upper chamber.

Significantly this last vote represented an overall majority of MPs. But this was nevertheless only an indicative vote and many political and legislative hurdles remained to be overcome for supporters of an elected second chamber. The House of Lords, soon after, rejected this proposal and voted for an entirely appointed House of Lords. On 30 November , a Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords was agreed by them; certain amendments were agreed by them on 30 March and on 12 June The House of Lords, she argues, currently has enough power to make it relevant.

During Tony Blair's first year, he was defeated 38 times in the Lords�but that was before the major reform with the House of Lords Act Secondly, as to the composition of the Lords, Meg Russell suggests that the composition must be distinct from the Commons, otherwise it would render the Lords useless. The third feature is the perceived legitimacy of the Lords. She writes, "In general legitimacy comes with election. The Conservative�Liberal Democrat coalition agreed, after the general election, to outline clearly a provision for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber, elected by proportional representation.

These proposals sparked a debate on 29 June As an interim measure, appointment of new peers would reflect the shares of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election. Under the proposals, members would also serve single non-renewable terms of 15 years.

The details of the proposal were: [37]. The proposals were considered by a Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform made up of both MPs and Peers, which issued its final report on 23 April , making the following suggestions: [ citation needed ].

A private members bill to introduce some reforms was introduced by Dan Byles in This act makes provision to preferentially admit archbishops and bishops of the Church of England who are women to the Lords Spiritual in the 10 years following its commencement. In , a seven-month enquiry by Naomi Ellenbogen QC found that one in five staff of the house had experienced bullying or harassment which they did not report for fear of reprisals. On 19 January , it was announced that House of Lords may be moved from London to a city in Northern England , likely York , or Birmingham , in the Midlands , in an attempt to "reconnect" the area.

It is unclear how the Queen's Speech would be conducted in the event of a move. The size of the House of Lords has varied greatly throughout its history.




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