9.1c Functions of the House of Lords Flashcards Preview

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The House of Lords contains peers who represent people in society that are less well represented in public life.

The House of Lords represents expertise from across society and a range of different professional backgrounds.

The House of Lords also represents different political views.

The Conservatives have 250 peers, the Labour party have 187 peers and the Liberal Democrats have 98 peers in the House of Lords.
There are 185 crossbenchers who do not align themselves with any party.


Investigating public policy

The House of Lords investigates and debates important public policy issues.

Select committees in the House of Lords conduct investigations into policy areas, by hearing evidence from a range of people including experts in the policy area and ministers.

From 2016-2017, the House of Lords produced 41 reports on policy areas including Brexit and autonomous vehicles.


Law making

The House of Lords proposes and debates bills in a similar way to the House of Commons and scrutinises the bill through the use of committees.

The House of Lords proposes amendments to bills during the law-making process, which are considered by the House of Commons.

The House of Lords can delay the passage of a bill through Parliament if they do not agree with the bill.

The House of Lords can defeat the government by not passing a bill, and send it back down to parliament, which does not kill the bill. The Lords can defeat secondary legislation.


Government scrutiny

Scrutiny of the government takes place in the form of written and spoken questions put to government and through debates over policy.


Effectiveness of Functions: Law making

Bills are debated in depth by the House of Lords and passed through a number of processes in the House of Lords before being passed.

The House of Lords contains experts who can provide input into debates and committee reviews of bills.

Lord Krebs is zoologist and expert in the field of science and was the former President of the British Science Association.

Lord Mandelson has past political expertise and had of government roles for the Labour Party, such as Secretary of State under Gordon Brown’s government.


Effectiveness of Functions: Scrutiny I

Each government department has a member of the House of Lords linked to it that will face questions during question time from other Lords.

Questioning of the government happens for 30 minutes each day from Monday to Thursday.

The House of Lords submits written questions to the government.

Between 2016-2017, over 7,000 written and spoken questions were put to the government.

The House of Lords makes sure that a government with a large majority is held to account by debating and proposing amendments to bills.


Effectiveness of Functions: Scrutiny II

No single party controls the House of Lords, increasing non-partisanship in the chamber.

Life peerages mean that Lords don't have to worry about losing their position if they disobey a whip.

Lords don't have constituencies, so can spend more time in parliament scrutinising the government.


Effectiveness of Functions: Interventions

In 2015 the House of Lords voted to delay cuts to tax credits.

In response, the proposed cuts were delayed and modified in the Autumn statement the next month.

The European Union withdrawal bill had been defeated in the Lords a total of 17 times by October 2018.

The House of Lords forced legislation changes, such as making a meaningful vote for parliament and to make sure that EU environmental law is still applied after Brexit.


Effectiveness of Functions: Representation

There are a reduced number of hereditary peers, reducing the number of Lords who simply inherited their title.

The Lords Spiritual (Women) Act in 2015 means that if a woman becomes a diocesan bishop, she joins the next vacancy for bishops in the House of Lords until 2025.

Members of the House of Lords represent and advocate for diverse groups in parliament.
Baron Bird advocates for homeless people.

Members of the House of Lords debate issues of importance to the public, such as Brexit.


Ineffectiveness of Functions: Scrutiny

Some members of the House of Lords don't fulfil their role in parliament, only turning up to receive their expenses.

Large amounts of expenses were claimed by 277 peers, even though they spoke five times or less between 2016-2017.

The House of Lords has the same difficulties as the House of Commons when posing written and spoken questions to the government.


Ineffectiveness of Functions: Representation

Members are not elected by the public, and the chamber doesn't directly represent citizens like the House of Commons does.

There are 92 hereditary peers who inherited their title and peerage, such as Lord Strathclyde and the Earl of Sandwich.

The majority of the other peers were appointed by party leaders through the power of patronage, instead of independently.

Over half of members are over 70.

Church of England bishops are in the House of Lords, but no representatives from any other religion.


Ineffectiveness of Functions: Law Making

The House of Lords is not able to stop legislation passing through which it disagrees with, it can only delay and propose amendments to bills.

In 2017 the House of Commons rejected two amendments made by the House of Lords to a bill which enabled the UK to start negotiations to leave the European Union.

The Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949 prevent the House of Lords from stopping legislation passing through Parliament and from debating a money bill, which is a bill that only involves government spending or taxation.

The Salisbury Convention means that the House of Lords is unable to oppose policies in the manifesto of the elected government.