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House of Lords Reform - Essay Example

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One of the most important agendas of this Government has been the reform of the House of Lords. Both the public and the parties that make up the government have called for changes to the powers and composition of the Second Chamber. This memorandum outlines these changes to the House of Lords and discusses their merits and dismerits.
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House of Lords Reform
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Download file to see previous pages 110). That same year the government took its first significant steps in reforming the House with the Constitutional Reform Act. This act mandated the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords, in addition to taking on a role in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It also removed the powers of the Speaker of the House of Lords and Head of the Judiciary of England and Wales from the office of Lord Chancellor.
This change has been the most contentious of those proposed. The number of elected representatives that should be allowed has been the subject of considerable debate. It was proposed that 120 members be elected by the public, 120 appointed by a statutory independent commission and the rest would be appointed by political parties in proportion to votes received by a party at the most recent general election. Despite the debate surrounding the number of members a larger issue is at stake. In the report put forward by Clarke, Cook, Tyler, Wright and Young (2005) they claim that it is not so much the number of elected members but rather the powers they will receive that is at issue (p. 8). They state, "Whilst there has been a great deal of support for the introduction of elected members, some in the political world have been concerned that this would make the second chamber more powerful, and therefore result in a challenge to the traditional primacy of the House of Commons" (p. 8).
merits and dismerits: There is little doubt that the introduction of elected members to the House of Lords would allow for a greater degree of democratic representation than is seen today, particularly within the regions. Yet, it could cause an unfavorable change in the balance of power between the two houses if elected members do not take the spirit of the Salisbury Doctrine into consideration, something many doubt would happen. Roger and Walters (2004) state the Salisbury convention is perhaps more a code of behaviour for the Conservative Party when in opposition in the Lords than a convention of the House. Indeed it is a moot point whether, following the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999, the expulsion of the hereditary members and the ending of the overwhelming numerical advantage of the Conservative Party, the Salisbury convention as originally devised can have any continuing validity (p. 19)1. If the House of Commons and the Executive wish for there to be a check on the House of Lord's powers of bill prevention they must look to making such limitations.
2. The reduction of the number of House members
Currently the House of Lords has over 700 members and is one of the largest parliamentary chambers in the world. Although, since members are appointed for life and often reach an age where they cannot sit in on House meetings as often, attendance is considerably lower than the total number of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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