In light of the recent 'Lords-for-hire' allegations and continued calls for its reform, former Conservative MP and regular One Show correspondent Gyles Brandreth delves into the inner workings of the House of Lords.
Effectively the descendent of the Parliament of England created by the Treaty of Union in 1706, today the House of Lords is the second house - or upper chamber - of UK parliament, after the House of Commons. As well as being involved in the law-making process, the Lords also examines the Government's work, debates current affairs and is the highest court of appeal in the land.
Members of the Lords - known as peers - are not elected by the public but chosen by the current Prime Minister and, sometimes, the Queen, under the advisement of the PM. They are made up of life peers, hereditary peers and senior bishops. But, as Gyles discovers, there is some new blood among the 700 members, including feminist Muslim Baroness Afshar and Baroness Gardner, an Australian ex dentist.
And it still really is a job for life. Only an act of Parliament, the crime of treason or death can remove them from the house. But, after it was claimed that four Labour peers agreed to accept financial inducements to help amend a bill, Justice Secretary Jack Straw is now considering tougher rules for the Lords, rules which, if implemented, would expel peers found guilty of serious misconduct.
BBC News: House of Lords explained
Official House of Lords site
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