Francis Young: “Packing” the Lords: Some Legal Reflections

UK Constitutional Law Association

The recent string of Government defeats in the House of Lords over amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has reignited the debate over the role of the Lords in a modern democracy. The Daily Mail published a characteristically trenchant headline suggesting that we should “pull the plug” on the “traitors in ermine”.

The abolition of the House of Lords is still probably some way off, but the recent events have raised the question of what options a government has to deal with resistance by the Lords to its policies. The normal means of addressing this problem (if one sees it as a problem) is to invoke the Parliament Acts, which provide that the Commons can override the Lords by passing the same bill in two consecutive parliamentary sessions. But this remedy is not readily available in the context of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, as the current parliamentary session will…

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