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The Conservative Party’s 2019 Manifesto (PDF) said that after Brexit, there was a “need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution”, including the role of the House of Lords.

In 2020 and 2021, the Government argued against piecemeal reforms to the House of Lords.

In the House of Lords, there have been several questions in the current Parliament about its size and the way in which appointments are made to it.

In October 2022, Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State, Cabinet Office, confirmed the Government had “No plans to change the status of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, which is a non-statutory advisory body”.

Reform proposals

Since the removal of all but 92 hereditary peers from the House of Lords in the Labour Government’s House of Lords Act 1999, there have been plans for further reform, with inconclusive votes on the proposed composition of a reformed second chamber in 2003 and 2007; and the second reading but no further progress on the House of Lords Reform Bill in 2012.

Two relatively small reforms were implemented as a result of backbench bills that originated in the House of Lords. Members of the House of Lords can retire (House of Lords Reform Act 2014) and can be expelled and suspended beyond the end of a parliamentary session (House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015).

Backbench bills have been introduced in the House of Lords to end by-elections to fill vacancies among hereditary peers, leading eventually to end of hereditary peers sitting in the Lords; and to put the House of Lords Appointments Commission on a statutory footing.

In December 2022, the Labour Party published A New Britain: Renewing our Democracy and Rebuilding our Economy. The report was prepared by a commission on the UK’s Future, led by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

It contained recommendations to replace the House of Lords with an Assembly of the Nations and Regions, with around 200 members.

The new second chamber would have “a new role of safeguarding the UK constitution”, in a way that sustained the primacy of the House of Commons.

The report said the new second chamber “must have electoral legitimacy”. It would be smaller than the House of Commons, elected on a different electoral cycle. Its precise composition and the method of election would be consulted on.

In a Hansard Society lecture on 7 December 2022, the Lord Speaker, Lord McFall of Alcluith, said it was not for him to put forward specific proposals for reform of the House. Rather, he suggested “a framework that will help us to have a constructive and purposeful debate about the future of the House”.

In interviews later in December, the Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle commented on the Labour Party’s proposals. The BBC reported the Speaker “expressed his opposition to Labour’s plan to replace the House of Lords with an elected chamber” and the plan “would undermine the authority of the House of Commons”.

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