Lords, House of


Lords, House of

Upper house of Britain's bicameral Parliament. From the 13th and 14th centuries it was the house of the aristocracy. Until 1999 its membership included clergy, hereditary peers, life peers (peers appointed by the prime minister since 1958), and the judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Britain's final court of appeal). Though it predates the House of Commons and dominated it for centuries, its power has gradually diminished. Its power to affect revenue bills was constrained by the Parliament Act of 1911, and in 1949 its power to delay by more than a year the enactment of any bill passed by the Commons was revoked. In 1999 the hereditary peers lost their right to sit in the House of Lords, though an interim reform retains their voice in a more limited fashion. The body's chief value has been to provide additional consideration to bills that may be not be well formulated.

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