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Monday, 2 October, 2000, 10:06 GMT 11:06 UK
Lords sits longest hours in its history
House of Lords
The Lords is one of the busiest parliamentary chambers
The House of Lords has sat for longer hours in the past year than ever before, making it one of the busiest parliamentary chambers in the world.

Despite government reform of the Lords which saw the departure of 655 hereditary peers, the upper chamber still sat for 157 days and stayed sitting for mire time than in any other 12-month period in its history.

According to the House of Lords annual report, the main running costs of the Upper House totalled 31 million.

The bill for maintaining the Grade 1 listed building and its infrastructure was 14 million.

The report also highlighted the changes that brought about the end of the hereditary principle in the Lords.

Fall in numbers

Last year saw the departure of 655 hereditary peers but 92 hereditaries were elected to stay behind on a temporary basis.

During the year 92 life peers were appointed, making the total of 201 new life peers created between since Labour's 1997 general election victory and 31 March 2000.

The reforms have - apart from anything else - seen the membership of the Lords drop from 1,330, its highest recorded number, to 669 - although average attendance remained at over 350 members.

Despite all the changes, the Lords reached new heights over frustrating government legislation.

Peers tabled a record 8,116 amendments to government bills, of which 3,243 were incorporated.

Lords give government a rough ride

For example, the bill that created the new London mayoralty and the Greater London Assembly was subject to more than 2,356 amendments.

Other pieces of key government legislation also got a rough ride in the upper chamber.

Peers left out a clause in the welfare reform and pensions bill limiting incapacity benefit to only those who had been in recent employment.

They also threw out the bill that aimed to restrict the right of trial by jury to certain cases.

The government was also defeated in its attempt to revoke Clause 28 - the law that forbids the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools.

The backlog in legislation created in part by opposition in the Lords and by the sheer volume of bills that the government is trying to get on the statute books also forced the Lords to return earlier last month than usual.

The House of Lords Annual report 1999-2000 is published by HM Stationary Office.

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House of Lords
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