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Contemporary context

The February 2007 White Paper on House of Lords reform, which proposed a partly elected and partly appointed Chamber, included a proposal that every retiring Justice of the Supreme Court should be offered a seat in the House of Lords in order to retain judicial expertise in the Second Chamber.

"The value of the expertise brought to the work of the House by the retired Law Lords would justify the offer of a seat in the reformed House to retiring Justices," stated the 2007 White Paper. "They would become part of the non-party-political cohort of the reformed House, and would be appointed by the Statutory Appointments Commission [House of Lords Appointment Commission] at the next appointment round following their retirement".

This followed concerns, expressed during a debate in June 2006, that the House of Lords would lose the expertise held by the retired Law Lords.

The 2008 White Paper - 'An Elected Second Chamber: Further reform of the House of Lords' - stated the "Appointments Commission could consider retired Justices of the Supreme Court for appointment in the normal way".

From 1 October 2009, the serving Law Lords from the House of Lords were the first justices of the 12-member Supreme Court and were disqualified from sitting or voting in the House of Lords. When they retire from the Supreme Court they can return to the House of Lords as full Members but newly-appointed Justices of the Supreme Court are not automatically entitled to seats in the House of Lords.

A new transparent appointments process, that includes an independent Supreme Court Appointments Commission, has been adopted for new Law Lords.

Page last updated August 2015.

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The House of Lords debated the loss of the Law Lords from Parliament on 20 June 2006