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The Politics of Second Chamber Reform: A Case Study of the House of Lords and the Passage of the House of Lords Act 1999

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This case study of the politics of second chamber reform examines the way in which the Labour government set about achieving the removal of hereditary members in the House of Lords Act in 1999. The author had unique access to confidential meetings of Baroness Margaret Jay, Leader of the Lords, and her team during the passage of this legislation. Consequently, the twists and turns of a tale of pure politics are outlined. The result of this extraordinary sequence of behind-the-scenes deals and arguments is an historic compromise whereby some of the hereditary peers still remain as members of the House of Lords. Interviewees include Baroness Jay of Paddington and Lord Richard, former Labour Leader of the Lords, Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, and Lords Cranbourne and Strathclyde, the Conservative Leaders at the time.

Keywords: Bicameralism; House of Lords; House of Lords Act 1999; Margaret Jay; hereditary peers; second chambers

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2001

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