House of Lords (Amendment) Bill: Third reading update

02 March 2012

The renamed House of Lords (Amendment) Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords yesterday (Thursday 1 March).

Amendments made would prevent members of the Armed Forces and those 'undertaking other public service' such as diplomatic service abroad from losing their membership of the House.

Members of the House would not face automatic expulsion from the House if convicted of a crime outside the UK now that Amendment Seven (Clause Five) has been agreed.

Lord Steel of Aikwood (Liberal Democrat) wished to insert a new clause after Clause Five to address a member's expulsion as agreed by the House and the right for the expelled member to appeal. A vote was suggested but Tellers (members who count the vote) for and against the amendment were not appointed and so the vote could not proceed. The amendment was disagreed. 

After the debate Lord Steel concluded: '...the bill saw first light of day in March 2007. It has been five years in gestation. Two major issues have been dropped from it: one was turning the Appointments Commission into a statutory body; the other was the ending of hereditary by-elections.'

The bill will now be sent to the House of Commons for its first reading.

House of Lords (Amendment) Bill: Key areas

  • All recommendations for life peerages would be made by a Statutory Appointments Commission.
  • Proposals for new peers could be made to the Commission.
  • All nominees would have to demonstrate conspicuous merit and a willingness and capacity to make a contribution to the work of the House of Lords.
  • In determining how many new peers (if any) to recommend each year, the Commission would take the following principles into account:
    • Not less than 20 per cent of the members of the House of Lords should be independent of any political party.
    • No one party, nor a coalition of parties forming a government, should have a majority of members in the House of Lords.
    • The government of the day (or the largest party in a coalition government) should be entitled to have a larger number of members than the official Opposition, but that majority should normally be no greater than 3 per cent of the total membership of the House of Lords.
    • The House of Lords should not have more members than the House of Commons.
  • Existing hereditary peers would no longer be replaced when they die.
  • Members could apply to take permanent leave of absence, which would be the equivalent of retiring from the House of Lords.
  • Members who did not attend the House of Lords during a parliamentary session would be deemed to have taken permanent leave of absence.
  • Any member found guilty of a serious criminal offence and sentenced to more than a year in prison would cease to be a member of the House of Lords.

Catch up on the House of Lords (Amendment) Bill

The private members' bill was brought to the House of Lords by Lord Steel of Aikwood.

Private Members' Bills

Members of the Lords who are not government ministers can introduce private members’ bills. Like public bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. Most private members’ bills do not become law (Acts of Parliament). However, by creating publicity around an issue, some private members’ bills can indirectly affect legislation.

What happens after third reading?

If the bill started in the Lords, it goes to the House of Commons for its first reading. The Commons reprints the bill with the Lords amendments.

Joint Committee on Draft House of Lords Reform

Attending a debate

Find out more about watching House of Lords debates in Parliament.

Image: Parliament copyright

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