Elections - The House of Lords

9 important questions on Elections - The House of Lords

What does the House of Lords do?

It has no real power and only limited influence. They have a consultative role. They can delay a bill, but they cannot stop it becomming a law. Bills can be discussed in more detail, so irregularities and  inconsistencies can be found in a proposal. The Lords can act as a forum for discussion and can bring to attention matters the commons has been ignoring and also the Lords can act as a check on any government which are becoming too dictatorial.

What is a hereditary peer?

It is a member of the House of Lords who got his membership by hereditary right, so inherited from a parent. Until 1958 all of the Lords were aristocrats but then a law was passed, which made it possible to award life peerages through the honours system. This gave people entitlement to sit in the Lords but not the children of these people. Nowadays only a small portion af the Lords are there by hereditary right.

What are 'life peerages'?

Until 1958, all members of the House of Lords were aristocrats. Then, a law was passed which made it possible to award 'life peerages' through the honours system. These gave people entitlement to sit in the Lords, but not their children. During the second half of the 20th century, the life peerage system established itself as a means of finding a place in public life for distinguished older politicians who no longer wished to be busy as an MP in the Commons but still wished to voice their opinions in a public forum.
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What does 'being kicked upstairs' mean?

It means that political parties offer life peerage to old leaders, so they can be rewarded with prestige and removed from the Commons, where their status and reputation might otherwise create trouble for the present party leader and the party unity. Four out of six PM and hundreds of former ministers have accepted the offer of a life peerage.

What is the difference between the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal?

The Lords Spiritual are made up of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester as well as specific bishops of the Church of England. 

The Lords Temporal are made up of hereditary Peers elected under Standing Orders, life Peers, Law Lords, the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain.

How can you enter the House of Lords?

1. Recommended by the PM
2. Recommended by a political party
3. Recommended by the House of Lords Appointment Commission

What are the Law Lords and the Lords Spiritual?

  • The Law Lords who fulfilled the role of a final court of appeal in the country. This role was taken over by the Supreme court in 2009.
  • The Lords Spiritual are the 26 most senior bishops of the Church of England  ( by traditio, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are given life peerage on their retirement)

Who or what is 'Black Rod' ?

He is a servant of the Queen, who, at the State opening of Parliament, traditionally knocks on the door of the House of Commons demanding them to let the Queen in. The Commons refuse as always. Instead the MP's agree to come through to the House of Lords to listen to the monarch in there. The tradition comes from the seventeenth century when Charles I once burst into the House of Commons and tried to arrest some MP's.

Describe the result of the 1999 reform of the House of Lords.

In that year the number of aristocrats with the right to sit in the Lords was limited to 92 (about 15% of the total members). At the same time the numbers of life-peerage appointments was increased.

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