House of Lords portcullis
House of Lords
Session 1998-99
Internet Publications
Other Bills before Parliament
Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

House of Lords Bill





Restrict membership of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage; to make related provision about disqualifications for voting at elections to, and for membership of, the House of Commons; to establish an Appointments Commission with functions in relation to the conferment of life peerages under the Life Peerages Act 1958; and for connected purposes.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

Exclusion of hereditary peers.     1. No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage.
Exception from section 1.     2. - (1) Section 1 shall not apply in relation to anyone excepted from it by or in accordance with Standing Orders of the House.
      (2) At any one time no more than 90 people shall be excepted from section 1; but anyone excepted as holder of the office of Earl Marshal, or as performing the office of Lord Great Chamberlain, shall not count towards that limit.
      (3) Once excepted from section 1, a person shall continue to be so throughout his life (until an Act of Parliament provides to the contrary).
      (4) A person may be excepted from section 1 by or in accordance with Standing Orders made in anticipation of the enactment or commencement of this section.
      (5) Any question whether a person is excepted from section 1 shall be decided by the Clerk of the Parliaments, whose certificate shall be conclusive.
Appointments Commission.     3. - (1) There shall be an Appointments Commission ("the Commission") which shall make proposals to the Prime Minister for recommendations to Her Majesty for the conferment of life peerages in accordance with the Life Peerages Act 1958.
      (2) The Commission shall be an advisory non-departmental public body and shall-
    (a) be appointed in accordance with the rules of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and may seek his advice about best practice in attracting and assessing potential nominees;
    (b) operate an open and transparent nominations system for peers not belonging to, or recommended by, any political party ("the Cross Bench peers");
    (c) actively invite nominations by the general public and encourage nominations from professional associations, charities and other public bodies that it judges appropriate;
    (d) publish criteria under which it will determine a candidate's suitability for nomination;
    (e) reinforce the present function of the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee in vetting the suitability of all nominations to life peerages by the political parties; and
    (f) scrutinise all candidates for life peerages on the grounds of propriety in relation to political donations, as proposed in the 5th Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
      (3) The Commission shall appoint its own Chairman.
      (4) It shall, at least every 6 months, and at most every year, make proposals to the Prime Minister for nomination as Cross Bench peers, sufficient at least to fill any vacancies among Cross Bench peers that may occur through death, disqualification or a decision to join a political party represented in the House of Lords.
      (5) The Prime Minister may not refuse to submit to Her Majesty the names of those recommended as Cross Bench peers by the Commission, and shall not seek to influence such nominations, save in exceptional circumstances, such as those endangering the security of the realm.
      (6) The Commission, in considering nominations as Cross Bench peers, shall not give any additional weight to recommendations from the Prime Minister or the Leaders of other political parties.
      (7) Following the passing of this Act the Commission shall make a report annually to Parliament on the recommendations made to Her Majesty by the Prime Minister for the conferment of life peerages, in which it will declare if the following criteria are being observed, namely that-
    (a) no one political party commands a majority in the House of Lords;
    (b) the Government has broad parity of numbers with the main opposition party; and
    (c) the proportion of the Cross Bench peers to the total number of life peers in the House remains as it was on the day before the passing of this Act.
      (8) The Commission shall consist of eight members of the Privy Council, of whom four shall be appointed by a special Commission of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Lord Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords.
      (9) One Commissioner shall be appointed from each of the three largest parties in the House of Commons on the nomination of the Leader of each such party, and one shall be appointed from the Cross Bench peers on the nomination of the Convenor of the Cross Bench Peers.
Removal of disqualifications in relation to the House of Commons.     4. - (1) The holder of a hereditary peerage shall not be disqualified by virtue of that peerage for-
    (a) voting at elections to the House of Commons, or
    (b) being, or being elected as, a member of that House.
      (2) Subsection (1) shall not apply in relation to anyone excepted from section 1 by virtue of section 2.
previous section contents continue
House of Lords home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999
Prepared 2 July 1999