The final legislative business of the House of Lords last Thursday, prior to prorogation, was Royal Assent to several Bills. These included what is now the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act. This gives the House the power to expel members and also to extend the power of the House to suspend members. It constitutes the second success of those of us who have been pressing for some years to achieve practical reform of the House. The first was enactment last year of the House of Lords Reform Act. This provides for the expulsion of members convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of twelve months or more, thus bringing us into line with the House of Commons. It also provides that peers who fail to attend for a whole session (lasting six months or more) cease to be members. This will take effect in the new Parliament. The other principal provision is to enable peers to retire from the House. This has already started to be employed. Peers who give notice of their intention to retire are able to give valedictory speeches. Lord Jenkin of Roding made use of this facility, making a much admired speech, achieving an unprecedented round of applause. In addition to those who have already retired, such as Lords Grenfell and Cobbold, the session ended with eleven peers listed as having given notice of their intention to retire. They include Lord Joffe (who pioneered the Assisted Dying Bill), Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and Lord Eden of Winton. More peers are expected to be created at the start of the new Parliament, adding to what is already a very large House. It is important to recognise that there is at least some movement in the other direction.
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