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House of Lords Library

History of the House of Lords: A Short Introduction

Published Thursday, April 27, 2017

This House of Lords Library briefing provides a short introduction to the history of the House of Lords.

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In so doing, the briefing charts the principal developments affecting the House over the course of its history and highlights the main changes and legislation passed. Since the 19th century a number of Acts of Parliament have had a noteworthy effect on the role, powers and membership of the House of Lords. These include:

  • Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876
  • Parliament Act 1911 and 1949
  • Life Peerages Act 1958
  • Peerage Act 1963
  • House of Lords Act 1999
  • House of Lords Reform Act 2014
  • House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015

This briefing identifies other proposals made that have sought to reform the House, either in regard to its role, powers and/or membership. Significant reform proposals over the last 100 years, including those sponsored by the Government of the day, have included: 

  • Bryce Commission 1918
  • Parliament (No 2) Bill 1968–69
  • Wakeham Commission 2000
  • House of Lords Reform Bill 2012–13
  • Strathclyde Review (2015)

This updated briefing also summarises the proposals for reform debated during the 2015–17 parliament.


Lords Library notes LLN-2017-0020

Authors: Edward Scott; Sarah Tudor

Topic: House of Lords

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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.