Lords examines House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill

26 March 2018

The House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill began its committee stage, the first chance for line by line scrutiny, in the Lords on Friday 23 March.

This is a private member's bill. A private member's bill is a type of public bill (that affects the public). Private members' bills must go through the same set of procedures as other public bills.

This bill would amend the House of Lords Act 1999 so as to abolish the system of by-elections for hereditary peers.

Members discussed subjects including the consequence of a wholly appointed second chamber, the right of a political party not to fill a hereditary peer vacancy and the role of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Vote on a motion to regret

Lord Trefgarne (Conservative) proposed a motion to regret that the bill is proceeding even though the recommendations in the report of the Lords Speaker's committee on the size of the House have not yet been implemented.

Members of the Lords voted on the regret motion, with 2 in favour and 129 against, so the motion was not agreed to.

Vote on a change to the bill

Following the regret motion, there was a further vote (division) on a proposed change (amendment) to bill.

Members considered a change that would retain the system of by-elections, but would amend the House of Lords Act 1999 so that in the event of a vacancy:

  • any hereditary peer can stand as candidate
  • the method for the by-election, including eligible electors, must not be based on party political affiliation

20 members were in favour of this amendment, with 111 against, and so the change was not made.

A second day of committee stage is yet to be scheduled.

Second reading

The House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill had its second reading, the key debate on the draft law's purpose and principles, on 8 September 2017.

Lords news: Private members' bills September 2017

Further information

Image: House of Lords/Roger Harris 2017

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