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House of Lords

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The House of Lords

an effective institution? an effective institution?

Introduction
Since the reform of the House of Lords in 1999 by Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ government, the status and legislative scope of the ‘upper house’ has steadily risen. Its role as a ‘revising chamber’, scrutinising bills sent to it from the House of Commons, is an important one. However, unlike upper houses in many modern democracies such as the Senate in the USA, theoretically it cannot stop, and at best can only delay, legislation sent from the Commons.
As a largely appointed chamber, doubts remain as to its legitimacy and as recently as 2012 the government tried to replace the Lords with a largely elected chamber. This initiative however failed, perhaps partly because MPs were worried that a wholly elected Lords might in the future question the primacy of the Commons.
Task Objective * This task requires you to explore the workings of the Lords and consider how effective it is as a parliamentary body.

* It will ask you to consider whether the House of Lords should be reformed further.

* It will guide you through a range of reading material and pose key questions for you to post on as you complete each section of reading.

Task 1: Overview of Functions____________________________________________________________________
You can get a very quick overview of the role and work of the House of Lords by skim reading the following pamphlet and watching the YouTube clip: http://youtu.be/_sLZBWcPklk http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-information-office/HoLwhat-the-lords-and-its-members-do-v2.pdf

Identify the core functions of the House of Lords * Pass good and effective law.

* Hold government to account.

* Act as a forum of independent expertise.

* It plays an intrinsic role in revising legislation and keeps governments accountable by scrutinising their activities.

* It used to have a judicial role as the highest court in the UK -but labours reforms of the house of lords changed this.

How do the functions of the House of Lords differ to the House of Commons?

* The house of lords does not have a government majority and has a weaker party whip system, therefore the HOL is a more independent to scrutinise legislation and can be seen as a watchdog for the constitution.

* The house of lords has more experience than the lower house, and so can amend and scrutinise in more depth.

* This also allows some bills to start in the HOL, especially if they are of very technical nature.

* The House of Lords cannot block legislation. It can only delay, and indeed some legislation- for example a piece of financial legislation or a manifesto promise from the governing party cannot be delayed either.

*

Task 2: Membership and Composition________________________________________________________________
Read the following articles: * McNaughton pages 225-6 * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Lords * http://www.parliament.uk/business/lords/whos-in-the-house-of-lords/
Composition of Parliament at Nov 2015
Commons Lords
Con 330 Con 250
Lab 231 Lab 212
Scottish Nat 55 Cross-bench 179
Lib Dem 8 Lib Dem 112
DUP 8 DUP 4
Plaid Cymru 3 Plaid Cymru 3
Green 1 UKIP 3
UKIP 1 Green 1
Other Irish 9 Bishops 26
Indep 2 Non –affiliated 30
Speaker 1 Ulster Unionist 1 650 821 [87 Hereditary]
From the source above, identify three ways in which the political makeup of the House of Lords differs from the House of Commons and explain the political consequence of each difference. Difference | Political Consequence | No government majority | The house of commons can largely be controlled by the prime minister and his chief whip, something which has been criticised as being “an elected dictatorship”. The house of lords does not have this, so party ties are weaker and lords vote with their own personal beliefs. | More independence | The house of lords has many non-affiliate members and cross bench peers, furthering the weak partisan divide. | Life peers | All members of the house of lords are life members and therefore do can vote freely without having their position come under fire. |
How representative of the UK population is the House of Lords? | UK | Lords | Male | 50% | 76% | Female | 50% | 24% | White | 91% | 87% | Ethnic Minority | 9% | 4% | University educated | 27% | 95% | Middle class/Professional | 20% | 100% |

Non-political life peers

The House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent body established in 2000.The Appointments Commission recommends individuals for appointment as non-party-political life peers. It also vets nominations for life peers, including those nominated by the UK political parties, to ensure the highest standards of propriety. Members can be nominated by the public and political parties. Once approved by the prime minister, appointments are formalised by the Queen.

Political peers * Life peerages may be given to some MPs (from all parties) when they leave the House of Commons at the end of a parliament. * When a prime minister resigns, he or she may recommend ‘resignation honours’ for politicians, their political advisers and others who have supported them. * Members can be appointed, on a party basis on political lists to ‘top up’ each of the three main party groups’ strengths, on the expectation that they will attend regularly and perhaps take on frontbench work as spokespersons or business managers (whips). * One-off announcements can cover peerages for particular individuals such as someone appointed as a minister who is not a member of the House.

Others

* A limited number of 26 Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House. When they retire as bishops their membership of the House ceases and is passed on to the next most senior bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury is usually given a life peerage on retirement. * Former speakers of the House of Commons have traditionally been awarded a peerage at the request of the Commons.
Blaaady hell, I feel a right Charlie
Blaaady hell, I feel a right Charlie

Daily Mirror
27th August 2015
David Cameron gives peerages to 26 Tories including City fatcat, bra tycoon and William Hague
David Cameron today showered peerages on rich party pals as he stuffed the House of Lords with cronies.
The dissolution honours list was finally revealed nearly five months after the 2010-15 Parliament ended.
Forty-five new peers are appointed, including 26 Tories, 11 Lib Dems and eight from Labour.
It reveals that Ultimo bra tycoon Michelle Mone, City fatcat James Lupton and ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague will be draped in ermine as Conservative peers.
The announcements will reopen the row over unelected peers and Tory links to big business

Daily Mirror
27th August 2015
David Cameron gives peerages to 26 Tories including City fatcat, bra tycoon and William Hague
David Cameron today showered peerages on rich party pals as he stuffed the House of Lords with cronies.
The dissolution honours list was finally revealed nearly five months after the 2010-15 Parliament ended.
Forty-five new peers are appointed, including 26 Tories, 11 Lib Dems and eight from Labour.
It reveals that Ultimo bra tycoon Michelle Mone, City fatcat James Lupton and ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague will be draped in ermine as Conservative peers.
The announcements will reopen the row over unelected peers and Tory links to big business

Explain four considerations taken into account when appointing Life Peers Consideration | Reason and Development | Experience in a field of work | The ability to make an effective and significant contribution to the work of the House of Lords, not only in their areas of particular interest and special expertise, but the wide range of other issues coming before the House;with a record of significant achievement within their chosen way of life that demonstrates a range of experience, skills and competencies; who are willing to commit the time necessary to make an effective contribution to the work of the House of Lords. The Commission recognises that many active members continue with their professional and other working interests and this can help maintain expertise and experience; | Political understanding and knowledge of the processes of parliament | some understanding of the constitutional framework, including the place of the House of Lords, and the skills and qualities needed to be an effective member of the House – for example, nominees should be able to speak with independence and authority; | Have the right standards | able to demonstrate outstanding personal qualities, in particular, integrity and independence; with a strong and personal commitment to the principles and highest standards of public life; | citizenship | resident in the UK for tax purposes and accept the requirements of citizenship |

Task 3: Work _______________________________________________________________________
Read the following articles: http://www.parliament.uk/about/faqs/house-of-lords-faqs/role/ https://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/the-church-in-parliament/bishops-in-the-house-of-lords.aspx
Make notes on the work of the House of Lords under the following sub-headings: Passing Law | | Scrutiny | | Holding Government to Account | |

Task 4: To what extent can and does the Lords challenge the government?
Read:
* McNaughton pages 226-30 * Use your earlier pack entitled ‘The Legislative process’ * For a an interesting article on why the Lords opposes the Government click here
The following also lists the Lords defeats: * https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/parliament/house-of-lords/lords-defeats * http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/principal/whips/
Ways in which the Lords can challenge the primacy of Commons 1. Question time
Members do this by either questioning ministers (in the chamber or in writing) or requiring ministers to respond to debates on topical issues. Anyone can watch the chamber at work during question time. Entry is free and you can also watch online.
The 30-minute question time takes place at the start of business from Monday to Thursday. A maximum of four questions directed at the government are posed by members. Once the government spokesperson has answered the initial question there is a chance for a short exchange of related, or ‘supplementary' questions. The government spokesman must answer each one.
Answers (in writing) to written questions should be provided within two weeks and are published in Lords Hansard reports.
Government ministers also announce important policy initiatives and reports on national and international issues in the Lords chamber through statements. Statements are usually made in both Houses and are followed in the Lords by a chance for short questions and observations on the announcement.

2. Debates
Many members have considerable experience in industries, professions and organisations and they are able to put this experience to good use during debates in the chamber, which the public can attend.
There are three main types of debate: * General debates (usually on Thursdays): One longer debate or two short debates lasting around five hours. Each party is given opportunities throughout the year to initiate such debates and backbench members can enter a ballot to propose general debates. * Short debates: These take place at the end of business or during dinner time and should last 60 or 90 minutes. In October 2013 a weekly one hour slot (on Thursdays) for a topical question for short debate was introduced. Backbench members can enter a ballot to propose topical subjects for these debates. * Debates on committee reports or general issues of the day with no set timing.

3. Scrutinising and challenging government

During question time, members posing the question don’t actually ask them out loud in the chamber. They are listed on a pre-published order paper. They say ‘My Lords, I beg leave to ask the question standing in my name on the order paper’. The minister then responds from the despatch box.
In the 2014-15 session, members held the government to account with 6,394 oral and written questions and 188 debates.
The House of Lords is self-regulating. The Lord Speaker cannot impose order – all members are responsible for discipline in the chamber, or ‘keeping order’, and this is left to the House as a whole.
Ways in which the Lords cannot challenge the primacy of the Commons

* Cannot block primary legislation- only delay it

*
Cannot block a financial bill from a budget

*
Cannot block a bill promised in the governing parties legislation

Why is the power of party weaker in the Lords? * No government majority

* More independent/non affiliate/cross benchers

* Life members- so no career aspersions
The Parliament Act
The Act allows the Commons to push through legislation rejected by the Lords in the next session [year]. It can not be used against legislation introduced in the Lords first. The Parliament Act [1911 and amended 1949] has only been invoked 7 times since 1911:
The 1911 Act was used 3 times 1. Government of Ireland Act 1914, which would have established a Home Rule government in Ireland; its implementation was blocked due to the First World War. 2. Welsh Church Act 1914, under which the Welsh part of the Church of England was disestablished in 1920, becoming the Church in Wales. 3. Parliament Act 1949, which amended the Parliament Act 1911 (discussed above).
The amended form of the 1911 Act has been used four times.[4] These were: 1. War Crimes Act 1991, which extended jurisdiction of UK courts to acts committed on behalf of Nazi Germany during the Second World War (the only time- to date- that the Parliament Acts have been used by a Conservative government). 2. European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999, which changed the system of elections to the European Parliament from first past the post to a form of proportional representation. 3. Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, which equalised the age of consent for male homosexual sexual activities with that for heterosexual and female homosexual sexual activities at 16. 4. Hunting Act 2004, which prohibited hare coursing and (subject to some exceptions) all hunting of wild mammals (particularly foxes) with dogs after early 2005.

Government Defeats in the House of Lords https://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/research/parliament/house-of-lords/lords-defeats How many times has the Government been defeated in the House of Lords this session? Government | Session | Number of defeats | Conservative | 2015- | 21 | Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition | 201--2015 | 109 | Labour | 2005-2010 | 17 | Labour | 2001-2005 | 245 | Labour | 1997-2000 | 108 | Conservative | 1979-1996 | 241 | Labour | 1975-1978 | 240 |

Also read: * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32725118 How the Lords can cause trouble for Cameron * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34666820 The Tax Credit revolt and 100 Years of Strife * http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34651772 Reform in the wake of the Tax Credit revolt

Examples where the Lords has successfully opposed the Government? * Just for the current government: This session Government Defeats Defeat no | Date | Bill | Subject | Majority | 23 | 30/11/2015 | Enterprise Bill [HL] | To insert a clause to require pub-owning businesses to offer a market rent only option to tied pub tenants, and to introduce rent assessments for tenants. | -22 | 22 | 30/11/2015 | Enterprise Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring that the environmental objectives of the Green Investment Bank are specified in the company's articles of association, and ensuring that the articles require its directors to act and review their actions against the objectives. | -47 | 21 | 18/11/2015 | European Union Referendum Bill | To insert a clause to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in the EU referendum. | -82 | 20 | 27/10/2015 | Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015 | To insert an amendment to the motion to annul the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015, adding that the motion should be annulled because it goes against the advice of the Electoral Commission. | -10 | 19 | 26/10/2015 | Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 | To decline to consider the draft Regulations until the government reports a scheme for transitional protection for current low-income recipients of tax credits, responds to the analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and considers mitigating action. | -17 | 18 | 26/10/2015 | Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 | To decline to consider the draft Regulations until the government presents a report detailing their response to the analysis of the draft Regulations produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and considering mitigating action. | -30 | 17 | 21/10/2015 | Energy Bill [HL] | To insert a clause to prevent carbon units deriving from the operation of the EU Emissions Trading System from contributing to the UK’s carbon emissions target after 31 December 2027. | -23 | 16 | 21/10/2015 | Energy Bill [HL] | To remove the clause providing for the closure of the renewables obligation (subsidies) for onshore wind generating stations. | -52 | 15 | 19/10/2015 | Energy Bill [HL] | To insert a clause to extend the remit of the Oil and Gas Authority to include overseeing the decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure and securing the infrastructure for the transportation and storage of greenhouse gases. | -72 | 14 | 14/10/2015 | Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Criminal Courts Charge) Regulations 2015 | To move to regret that the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 (Criminal Courts Charge) Regulations 2015 impose a rigid structure of court charges, and were presented to parliament before dissolution, allowing little time for scrutiny (non-fatal motion). | -32 | 13 | 14/10/2015 | Childcare Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring that any statutory instruments under the bill should be approved by resolution in both Houses. | -22 | 12 | 14/10/2015 | Childcare Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring that regulations under the bill should ensure flexible childcare for parents working outside the hours of 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and to ensure that childcare is made available during school holidays. | -26 | 11 | 14/10/2015 | Childcare Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring the government to produce a review of the free childcare entitlement funding system before the bill is enacted. | -13 | 10 | 21/7/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To prevent the transfer of regulatory functions for the health service to devolved bodies. | -65 | 9 | 21/7/15 | Proposed changes to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons | To move that a joint committee be appointed to produce a report on the constitutional implications of the government's revised proposals on English Votes for English Laws by 30 March 2016. | -181 | 8 | 20/7/15 | Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill [HL] | To insert a clause ensuring that charities are able to dispose of their assets in a way that is consistent with their charitable purposes. | -83 | 7 | 15/07/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To insert a clause enabling referendums to undo change to city governance arrangements. | -41 | 6 | 15/07/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To insert a clause lowering the age for voting in local government elections from 18 to 16. | -67 | 5 | 14/07/15 | Psychoactive Substances Bill [HL] | To make supplying new psychoactive substances in prisons an aggravating offence. | -38 | 4 | 13/07/15 | Universal Credit (Waiting Days) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 | To move that there be a delay to the enactment of the 'waiting days' amendment to universal credit regulations until universal credit has been fully rolled out. | -11 | 3 | 13/07/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To prevent the Secretary of State from making the creation of a directly elected mayor of a combined authority a condition for the transfer of power to that authority. | -65 | 2 | 13/07/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring a minister introducing a bill to make a 'devolution statement' declaring the compatibility of the legislation with the principle of devolution to the local level. | -66 | 1 | 13/07/15 | Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill [HL] | To insert a clause requiring the Secretary of State to produce an annual report on devolution within England. | -57 | *
Why has the significance of the Lords grown since 1999?

Reason | Explanation | Labours lords reform | The removal of hereditary peers made the house more legitimate and a centre of expertise. | Erosion of the Salisbury convention | The lords are now more willing to go against the commons. For example the recent tax credit defeats. The coalition also allowed the lords to ignore legislation promised in manifestos and block them anyway | The removal of hereditary peers | removed the in built tory majority- making the house more democratic | Proposals for even more reform | Proposals in 2012 for elections to most seats in the Lords[edit]In August 2012, the coalition government of David Cameron and Nick Clegg dropped plans to reform the House of Lords by making it mostly elected and slashing its size.[8] Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg spearheaded the push to bring in the changes.[8] The government wanted four-fifths of members of a reformed House of Lords to be elected. They would have served 15-year terms of office, after which they could not run for re-election. The number of peers was to be almost halved, from 826 to 450. The chamber would have kept the title of House of Lords, after names like Senate and Reformed House were rejected. Peers were each to represent a specific region of the United Kingdom, as constituted for the election of Members of the European Parliament. One-third of seats would have been filled by elections held every five years. Of the remaining 90 members, 12—rather than the current 26—would have been Church of England bishops. The remainder were to continue to be appointed, and all hereditary peers were to be removed.[8] The government had scheduled passage of its bill for the spring of 2013, and the elections were to have taken place in 2015, but the effort stalled when in July 2012, 91 Conservatives in the Commons, including Jacob Rees-Mogg, rebelled against the government in a vote on how to timetable the House of Lords Reform Bill. | | |

Task 5: Should the House of Lords be reformed?_________________________________________
Read:
* McNaughton pages 232-3 * http://leftcentral.org.uk/2012/07/11/why-the-house-of-lords-reform-is-important-but-unwanted/ * http://www.politics.co.uk/reference/house-of-lords-reform * http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/jun/04/conversation-elected-house-of-lords
May 2011 proposals and Draft Bill
Detailed proposals for Lords reform including a draft House of Lords Reform Bill were published on 17 May 2011These include a 300-member hybrid house, of which 80% would be elected. A further 20% would be appointed, and reserve space would be included for some Church of England bishops. Under the proposals, members would also serve single non-renewable terms of 15 years. Former MPs would be allowed to stand for election to the Upper House, but members of the Upper House would not be immediately allowed to become MPs.
House of Lords Reform Bill 2012
The Bill, introduced by Nick Clegg, was given its First Reading on 27 June 2012. On 9 July 2012, the Bill began to be debated. The Government also tried to introduce a programme motion, which would have limited the amount of time available to debate the Bill. Labour called for more scrutiny of the Bill and said it would vote against the programme motion, along with several Conservative MPs. On 10 July 2012, it became clear that the Government was going to lose the vote on the programme motion and it was withdrawn. At the vote that evening on whether to give the bill a Second Reading, 91 Conservative MPs voted against the three line whip while 19 more abstained. On 6 August 2012, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that the Government was abandoning the bill due to the opposition from Conservative backbench MPs, claiming that the Conservatives had "broken the coalition contract". However, David Cameron disputed this view, saying that the agreement contained no specific promise to enact reform of the House of Lords.

Opponents say * It is undemocratic to have unelected Members of the Lords involved in drafting and passing legislation. * The UK is the only country in the world – with the exception of Canada, that has an unelected second chamber. * A more democratic system is worth investing in.
Fully elected
Every Member of the Lords would have to win their place in the House of Lords through an election.
Supporters say * It fully addresses the current democratic deficit, giving the House of Lords a full mandate to initiate and amend legislation. * More people will be given the opportunity to stand for Parliament giving a greater range of representation. * More young people will sit in the House of Lords.
Opponents say * It causes more problems than it solves: with two elected chambers, the House of Commons would no longer be supreme. * The chamber would be full of professional politicians rather than attracting individuals with a wealth of knowledge and experience in a vast range of fields. * It isn’t clear how often elections should be and additional elections would cause additional costs.

| Arguments for an elected chamber | Arguments Against Reform | Democracy | More legitimate and democratic | Undermines the house of commons | Accountability | The second chamber is accountable to the electorates | Who hold the two houses accountable? | Checks and Balances | | | Social Balance | More representives for minorities Counter acts the democratic deficit | |

Reasons why reform of the Lords has been so difficult to complete?
1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

The house of Lords is now more effective than the House of Commons in checking government power. Discuss [40]

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...House of Commons Composition In The House of commons there is only one basis of membership and all members of parliament (MPs) win their seats in the same way. * The House of Commons consists of 650MPs. (This number is not fixed but varies each time changes are made to parliamentary constituencies.) * A single-member parliamentary constituency elects a MP using the First Past the post system. * MPs are almost always representatives of a party and are subject to a system of party discipline. * Most MPs are categorized as backbenchers, while a minority are front benchers. Powers Legally and Politically the House of Commons is the dominant chamber of parliament. * The House of Commons has supreme legislative power. In theory it can make, unmake and amend any law it wishes, with the laws only being able to delay these laws. The legal sovereignty of parliament id thus exercised in practise by the commons. * The House of Commons can remove the government of the day. A government that is defeated in the Commons on a major issue or a matter of confidence is obliged to resign or call a general election. House of Lords Composition The House of Lords has a complex and controversial composition. There are three distinct bases for membership of the House, meaning there are four kinds of peers. It is controversial because these peers are unelected. The House of Lords consists of the following: * Life peers. Life peers are peers who are entitled to...

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...have a large uproar on their hands. ▪ Central government, The central government is the main layer of government that operates across the whole of the country; the central government is always located in the centre of the country in that country’s capital city and it handles very specific responsibilities that no other group or government can carry out. Some of these responsibilities include signing treaties or certain types of agreements with other nations, making up laws (which would affect the whole country), defending their nation, distribution of the police forces, etc. Our central government is based in Westminster in London. London contains the most important political institutions for the Government, ‘The House of Lords’ and ‘The House of Commons’,...

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...2 chambers: House of Commons (originally commoners) and House of Lords (originally aristocrats). Parliament is the oldest legislator in the world; it is the mother of parliaments. House of commons is made up of 650 MPS, government are trying to reduce it to 600. House of Lords is around 800. Until 19th century, both houses were roughly equal. But as the 19th century goes on , votes are often given to more and more men , the house of commons requires more status and the house of Lords has less status. The last prime minister to come from the house of Lords in 1902. Parliament act of 1911 removed the power of vetoe. The Lords could not longer vetoe an act of parliament, only delay 2 years. 1949 that 2 years was reduced to 1 year and that’s where it remains. Salisbury convention - the lords will not even delay a bill for which the government have a mandate. Conflict between house of Lords and house of commons is very rare. Rare examples, 2005 – fox hunting, the parliament act was pushed through banned, commons pushed it through. Autumn 2011- the lords rejected Osbornes working tax credits party. The Lords debate bills but more importantly they offer any perspective of bills, they are a revising chamber. Over 800 Lords, the vast majority of them are life peers. Lord Sacks is an independent Lord , he is not under a party. Some Lords who are supporters of particular parties , no party have a majority in the house of lords. This is one...

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