9 DECEMBER 2002
The Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform has
agreed to the following Report:
HOUSE OF LORDS REFORM: FIRST REPORT
In this report we set out, for consideration by both
Houses, an inclusive range of seven options for the composition
of a reformed House of Lords. We do so against a background of
broad agreement on the role, functions and powers of a reformed
second chamber. The aim of maintaining the effectiveness and increasing
the legitimacy of the second chamber has become common ground.
Our terms of reference called upon us to consider
a wide range of documents and evidence, and so we have not felt
it necessary to call for further evidence. In this report we have
sought to inform the debates and votes in both Houses by clarifying
what we believe should be the future role, powers and nature of
the second chamber and identifying the implications of our conclusions
for its composition.
the second chamber in Parliament
We envisage a continuation of the present role of
the House of Lords, and of the existing conventions governing
its relations with the House of Commons. These conventions, which
are of a self-restraining nature, impact profoundly on the relations
between the Houses and need to be understood as a vital part of
any future constitutional settlement. When the views of the Houses
on composition are made known, we will return to the detailed
matter of how these important conventions should be maintained
in a new constitutional settlement between the Houses.
of the second chamber
We do not recommend, at this stage, that any new
or additional powers be given to the House.
However, we recognise that more consideration needs
to be given to the best way of ensuring that the reformed House
can act effectively in respect of secondary legislation. When
the Houses' views on the matter of composition are known, we shall
consider whether any change is needed in the powers of the House
in this area.
Subject to satisfactory assurances that carry-over
arrangements could not be used to erode the powers of the House,
we do not consider at this stage that the provisions of the Parliament
Acts need to be altered.
of a reformed second chamber
We consider five qualities desirable in the makeup
of a reformed second chamber:
· no domination
by any one party
The existing House of Lords meets several of these
criteria, namely lack of domination by one party, independence
and expertise. If these existing qualities, bolstered by a greater
representativeness, can be transferred to the reformed House,
we believe that a new legitimacy, which we have already highlighted
in considering the House's role, will naturally develop.
of a reformed second chamber
We propose that the reformed House should comprise
about six hundred members. This represents little change from
the present House without the 92 hereditary peers, but we recognise
that transitional arrangements may necessitate an increase in
size before equilibrium is reached.
A tenure for all members of some twelve years is
about right. While members should be able to resign their seats
earlier, members who do so should not thereby be able to stand
for election to the House of Commons at least for a certain period,
perhaps three years.
There should be a new Appointments Commission established.
But that should not exclude the possibility of nomination by the
Prime Minister of the day, nor proposals by party leaders and
members of the public. Such nominations would be scrutinised by
the new Appointments Commission. Only the Prime Minister would
have the right to have nominations confirmed.
Transitional arrangements may, depending on the composition
chosen, need to be spread over a substantial period. At this stage
we have concluded only that we are not attracted by the idea of
compulsory retirement for existing life peers.
The membership of the law lords and the bishops and
other religious representatives will need to be considered in
the light of the composition chosen. The judicial function of
the House of Lords is worthy of independent inquiry and expert
We consider it essential that some detailed work
should be done on costing options.
We recommend that there should be votes on seven
options, set out in paragraphs 63 to 74:
1. Fully appointed
2. Fully elected
3. 80 per cent appointed/20 per cent elected
4. 80 per cent elected/20 per cent appointed
5. 60 per cent appointed/40 per cent elected
6. 60 per cent elected/40 per cent appointed
7. 50 per cent appointed/50 per cent elected
We hope that there will first be debates on this
report in both Houses, with the opportunity to vote on the options
coming later, after members have had time to study both debates.
We are convinced that it is essential that both Houses
follow the same procedure in voting on options. We recommend that
a series of motions, each setting out one of the seven options
we have identified, be moved successively in each House notwithstanding
the normal practice in regard to questions. Members would be free
to vote in favour of as many of the options as they considered
After both Houses have expressed views, we shall
resume our deliberations and seek to develop, in our second report,
a single set of proposals for reform.