Introducing the Life Peerages Bill: Lord Home (1903–1995)
The Government presented its proposals for life peers to the Lords in October 1957. In doing so, the Earl of Home, Leader of the House, also indicated the intention to make women eligible to belong to the House as life peeresses. He added in a ribald aside that ‘taking women into a parliamentary embrace seemed to be only a modest extension of the normal functions of a peer'.
The Life Peerages Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech on 5 November 1957, and was introduced by Lord Home in the Lords on 21 November. The Bill itself was short, printed on a single sheet, and ran to just 231 words.
Although generally welcomed by peers during its progress through the House, many felt that as a reforming measure it did not go far enough. Putting the Government's case, Lord Hailsham vigorously stressed the constitutional importance of the Second Chamber, and warned against doing too much to change 'their lordships' old, rickety, anomalous and illogical House'. Several peers saw with foresight that once a future Labour government began creating only life peers, it would be difficult for succeeding Conservative governments to go back to creating hereditary peers.