Working for social justice, equal opportunity and fairness
Welcome to Labour Lords – the website by and about Labour Members of the House of Lords. As Labour Lords, our purpose in opposition is to do all that we can to help get Labour back into government as quickly as possible, so we can get back to helping all the people: the many, not the few.
Who we are
Labour Peers are from a diverse range of backgrounds and share the core Labour values of social justice, equal opportunity and fairness. Many are experts in their fields, and continue work outside the House of Lords alongside bringing their talents to the work here.
Unlike the House of Commons, members of the Lords are not elected. Instead, the Lords is largely made up of experts from many walks of life and is recognised for its important contribution to improving and revising legislation.
What we do
We work constructively with colleagues from around the House to scrutinise and improve legislation. We do not shy away from asking the most difficult questions or from challenging the Government on its proposals. As an opposition, it is our duty to oppose those proposals that we believe to be wrong and to propose improvements where they can be improved.
As an effective opposition in the House of Lords we have two key functions –
· Legislative: we give careful consideration to the details of legislation and are keenly aware of the Lords constitutional power to ask the Government and the Commons to think again about legislation.
· Deliberative: we play a vital role in holding the Government to account by scrutinising asking challenging, probing and topical questions of the Government, and scrutinising legislation (Bills and draft regulations). In addition, many Labour Peers are active members of select committees that report on legislation and other decisions and activities of Government. Debates are a good opportunity for Labour Peers to share their expertise in a field and challenge the Government to justify their policy.
Politics in the Lords
When Labour removed most of the hereditary peers in 1999, it removed the inbuilt Conservative Party majority. We established a balance so that no single political party had a majority. Getting legislation through the House therefore depended on consensus, on winning agreement with other groups or a sufficient number of individual peers.
The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has changed all that. Excluding the crossbenchers who have a limited impact on votes, the Government now has a working majority in the Lords as well as the Commons. As a result, it is able to force its legislation through – impacting severely on the role of the Lords as a revising chamber, and constraining its constitutional role as one of the important checks and balances in our constitution. Despite these obstacles, Labour Lords have succeeded in defeating the coalition many times since the election, through strength in argument that has built cross-party support for change and pushed the Government to change their position.
Reform of the House of Lords remains on many political parties’ agendas. Labour strongly supports reform. A wide range of opinions exist, both within and outside the party, and in different parts of Parliament, on how best to reform the Lords. For us, the work we do as members of the House of Lords is our primary focus.