Reform of the House of Lords - House of Lords Reform

The current House of Lords Reform movement began during the 1997 General Election. The Labour Party Manifesto established reform as a top priority with the goal of ending the right of hereditary Peers to sit in the House of Lords while leaving intact its legislative powers.

The House of Lords conducted a debate over a two day period in October 1998 on the subject of Lords reform. At that time the Government announced that it planned to establish a Royal Commission of both Houses of Parliament to allow for wider debate and consideration in developing plans for reform. The proposed Commission would undertake a review and present recommendations for legislation.

An important achievement of the reform movement has been the establishment of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. The Supreme Court formally assumed the judicial functions of the House of Lords on October 1, 2009. The Court hears appeals from the lower courts of England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. The High Court of Justiciary remains the highest court of appeal in Scotland.

The Court focuses primarily on cases that are of greatest concern to the general public, particularly criminal cases, commercial disputes, review of claims asserted against public authorities, and issues arising under the Human Rights Act 1998. The Court also adjudicates devolution issues involving the powers of the three devolved administrations.