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Keywords:

  • constitutional reform;
  • House of Lords;
  • House of Commons;
  • British politics

In May 2011 the Coalition government published a draft bill for reform of the House of Lords, proposing an upper chamber composed of 80% elected and 20% appointed members serving for single 15-year terms. These plans reflect aspects of the stated positions of the main political parties, votes in the House of Commons, and broader political and scholarly debates over the past decade. Nevertheless, there is significant opposition from across the political spectrum, and there is a significant possibility that the proposed reforms will not be enacted before the next general election. This article draws on the views of participants (including three current peers) in a Symposium at Trinity Hall, Cambridge to argue that the likely failure of the reforms may be less disastrous than many suppose. Especially since the 1999 reforms, the House of Lords is in many ways a more active and legitimate chamber than is commonly realised.