BBC NEWS
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC News UK Edition
 You are in: Special Report: 1998: 11/98: Queen Speech  
News Front Page
World
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
UK Politics
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Education
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
CBBC News
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Queen Speech Tuesday, 24 November, 1998, 19:27 GMT
Hereditaries hear their fate confirmed
House of Lords
Hereditaries listening to their last Queen's speech?
In a single self-contained reform the government is to abolish the rights of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords.

Reading a speech prepared for her by the government, the Queen said the proposal would be, "the first stage in the process of reform to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative".

The Queen's Speech
As well as abolishing hereditary peers the government will also set out proposals to reform the way life peers are appointed and a Royal Commission will examine the possible options for a revamped upper house.

Abolition of the centuries-old right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be one of the most bitterly fought bills in the new parliamentary session.

Some Lords are likely to resist the governments plans as they are yet to detail the full proposals for stage two of reform.

Abolishing hereditary peers is a Labour manifesto commitment and putting it into effect, the government says does not depend on any further reform.

Once their voting rights are abolished hereditary peers will, for the first time, be able to vote in elections as stands as MPs.

Once the hereditaries have gone, the Lords will be a "transitional" House and the government has no plans to replace them with an equivalent number of life peers.

No party will have a majority in the interim body and the government says it is keen to preserve the independent element of crossbenchers.

The Queen said, "the arrangements of the transitional House will preserve the best of the present House and remove the worst".

A White Paper will be published detailing the transitional arrangements and further details on the timetable and work of the Commission.

The government complains that the hereditaries give the Tories an in-built majority, making it difficult, to get its legislation on to the statute book, as the recent fight over the euro elections bill showed.

But opponents say life peers, like hereditaries, are unelected and can therefore be viewed as equally undemocratic.

The House of Lords Reform Bill could easily fail, as did the euro elections bill, due to determined opposition in the Lords.

But the government has pledged to invoke the Parliament Act if needs be to ensure the abolition of hereditary peers goes ahead.

Speaking on BBC News, the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Williams predicted the process of reform will be "a long haul" she added it would be hard to say if the bill will pass in a single session.

The former Tory home secretary, Lord Baker of Dorking, said although he was against the hereditary principle, peers he said had a right to know what will replace them. But he added that a, "Royal Commission will not come up with a solution".

See also:

19 Nov 98 | UK Politics
20 Nov 98 | Queen Speech
24 Nov 98 | Queen Speech
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Queen Speech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Queen Speech stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | World | UK | England | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales |
UK Politics | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology |
Health | Education | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes