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The House of Lords 1911-2011

A Century of Non-Reform

By: Chris Ballinger
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Published: 07-08-2014
Format: EPUB eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 264
ISBN: 9781782250494
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Hart Studies in Constitutional Law
RRP: £21.59
Online price : £12.95
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Loren Epson

About The House of Lords 1911-2011

House of Lords reform is often characterised as unfinished business: a riddle that has been left unanswered since 1911. But rarely can an unanswered riddle have had so many answers offered, even though few have been accepted; indeed, when Viscount Cave was invited in the mid-1920s to lead a Cabinet committee on Lords reform, he complained of finding 'the ground covered by an embarrassing mass of proposals'.That embarrassing mass increased throughout the twentieth century. Much ink has been spilled on what should be done with the upper House of Parliament; much less ink has been expended on why reform has been so difficult to achieve.

This book analyses in detail the principal attempts to reform the House of Lords. Starting with the Parliament Act of 1911 the book examines the century of non-reform that followed, drawing upon substantial archival sources, many of which have been under-utilised until now. These sources challenge many of the existing understandings of the history of House of Lords reform and the reasons for success or failure of reform attempts. The book begins by arguing against the popular idea that the 1911 Act was intended by its supporters to be a temporary measure.

'No one – peers included – should be allowed to pronounce about the future of the House of Lords without reading Chris Ballinger's authoritative, shrewd and readable account about reform attempts over the past century. He punctures several widely-held myths and claims in the current debate.'
Rt Hon Peter Riddell CBE
Director, Institute for Government and former Hansard Society chair

'This is at once an impeccably researched academic study, and a thoroughly readable account loaded with lessons for today's would-be Lords reformers.'
Lord (David) Lipsey

Table Of Contents

Introduction: Reform and Non-reform
Reform and Non-reform
A Century of Non-reform
The Evolution of the House of Lords
Twelve Instances of Reform and Non-reform
1 Veto Limitation over Reform: The Parliament Act 1911
The Political Situation, 1906–07
Cabinet Discussions on Lords Reform, 1907
Budget Rejection, 1909
Between the 1910 Elections
The Parliament Bill 1911
Reform following Veto Limitation? 1911–14
2 'The Battle is Over': House of Lords Reform, 1917–45
The Bryce Conference, 1917–18
Cabinet Committees, 1921–22
The Cabinet Committee, 1925–27
Lords reform in the 1920s
Avoiding Reform, 1928–45
3 A Pre-emptive Strike: The Parliament Act 1949
Labour and the House of Lords
Moves Towards reform, 1943–47
Nationalisation and House of Lords Reform
The Parliament Bill 1947
The Party Leaders' Conference 1948
The Parliament Bill Resumed
The Iron and Steel Bill
4 Diluting the Hereditary Principle?: The Life Peerages Act 1958
Life Peers
Inter-Party Discussions
Discussions, 1953–55
Limiting the Hereditaries: Proposals
Wider Reform: The Cabinet Committee, 1955–56
Short and Long Bills
The Life Peerages Bill
Limiting the Hereditary Peers
5 'The Wedgwood Benn Enabling Bill': The Peerage Act 1963
A Hereditary Life Peerage
Earlier Attempts at Renouncing Peerages
The Persistent Commoner
Fears over Loss of the Hereditary System
Party Support for Benn
The Committee of Privileges
Seating the 'Defeated' Candidate
The Joint Select Committee
The Peerage Bill
6 Adding to Wilson's Strife: The Inter-Party Conference and the Parliament (No 2) Bill [1968–69]
Abandoning the Unilateral, Two-Stage Approach
The Inter-Party Conference
The Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1968
The White Paper and the Decision to Proceed with the Bill
The Parliament (No 2) Bill
Abandoning the Bill
Epilogue: House of Lords Reform, 1970–74
After 1974
7 Stage One of Two?: The House of Lords Act 1999
Turning the Tide of Constitutional Reform
John Smith's Leadership
Tony Blair and House of Lords Reform
Post-election 1997
Priorities for the First Session
The Cabinet Committee
The Queen's Speech 1998
The Weatherill Amendment: Origins
The House of Lords Bill
By-elections for Hereditary Peers
8 The Long Stage Two: The Wakeham Commission and Beyond
The Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords
Follow-up to the Royals Commissions's Report
2001–05: Indecision, then a Surprising Move on Reform
Lords Reform in Labour's Third Term
2010: General Election and Coalition Government
9 Reasons for Reform and Non-reform
How and Why Does House of Lords Reform Reach the Cabinet's Agenda?
How Do Proposals Change When Under Consideration?
How and Why Do Proposals Succeed or Fail?


“This excellent book examines House of Lords reform over the 100-year period following the 1911 Parliament Act..Ballinger is very good at contextualising each attempted reform in the immediate politics of the period when it was under development.” –  Donald Shell, Public Law, No. 1/2014

“This work reflects an impressive depth of knowledge and research that is presented in a clear and disciplined writing style. Every chapter commences with arresting quotes that whet the appetite of the general reader as well as the specialist. A blizzard of complex data is made accessible through compression into a number of useful tables. Shrewd analysis challenges entrenched myths concerning House of Lords reform...This work offers much to attract political and legal historians.” –  Thomas Mohr, Irish Jurist, 2013(2)

“It would be an understatement to say that reform of the House of Lords (in its legislative capacity) is a holy grail of British politics. This book throws a vast amount of light on the reasons why so little has come of the various attempts at reform since the idea was first mooted more than a century ago. All the relevant arguments and controversies are addressed, comprehensively and competently. Anyone involved in the ongoing efforts at tackling this thorny issue could do worse than consult this book.” –  The Commonwealth Lawyer, Volume 22, No 2

“This is a remarkably good book: authoritative, insightful, shrewd, and eminently readable [and] one that I cannot recommend highly enough...The quality of the book is underpinned not only by its scope but also by Chris Ballinger's in-depth, detailed analysis. It is further underpinned by the author's very apparent understanding of the totality of the topic, and especially of the nature – and indeed changing nature – of House of Lords reform over the years...something that is not always possible to say about those who write, let alone speak, on this topic...Quite clearly this book should be mandatory reading for anyone with any interest in the subject of the House of Lords...Certainly anyone either thinking about, or determined to embark upon, House of Lords reform in the future will be well served by having read – and inwardly digested – Chris Ballinger's study.” –  Nicholas D.J. Baldwin, The Journal of Legislative Studies

“Well researched, it is no dry academic treatise, but provides real insight into how and why all attempts at fundamental change have failed.” –  Bob Hughes (Lord Hughes of Woodside), Progress Online

“The books covers each attempt at reform in remarkable detail, demonstrating the author's deep familiarity with the subject. The footnotes are a trove of information...It is to be hoped that at some point a second edition will cover these (and no doubt other) developments with the same elegance and mastery as Dr Ballinger demonstrates in this splendid book. Surely he is unrivalled in academia in his depth of knowledge of this subject.” –  Nicolas Besly, The Table

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