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The Weatherill Amendment: Elected Hereditary Peers (updated October 2009)

Published Friday, October 23, 2009

The House of Lords Bill 1998–99 sought to abolish the right of all hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords, and represented the most significant attempt to reform the House for some years. During the Lords consideration of the Bill, Lord Weatherill moved an amendment to allow 92 hereditary peers to remain as Members of the House. Thus the amendment, which was accepted in both Houses and became part of the House of Lords Act 1999, has become known as the ‘Weatherill amendment’. This Library Note provides a history of the amendment and outlines developments since 1999.

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The House of Lords Bill 1998–99 sought to abolish the right of all hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords, and represented the most significant attempt to reform the House for some years. During the Lords consideration of the Bill, Lord Weatherill moved an amendment to allow 92 hereditary peers to remain as Members of the House. Thus the amendment, which was accepted in both Houses and became part of the House of Lords Act 1999, has become known as the ‘Weatherill amendment’.

Subsequent proposals have aimed to phase out the hereditary principle by ending the by-elections that are held to replace excepted hereditary peers when they die.

This House of Lords Library Note gives a short history covering the origins of and parliamentary proceedings on the Weatherill amendment, the subsequent discussions about the role of the amendment in House of Lords reform as a whole and the subsequent proposals to end by-elections for hereditary peers.

Lords Library notes LLN-2009-008

Authors: Alex Brocklehurst; Maxine Hill

Topics: House of Lords, Members of Parliament, Members of the Lords, Parliamentary procedure

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.