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The House of Lords Bill [HL] had its first reading in the House of Lords on 25 May 2016 and is scheduled to receive its second reading on 21 October 2016. The Bill would set the number of Lords Temporal—those Members of the House of Lords other than the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England, who serve as Lords Spiritual—to a specified number equal to the number of constituencies returning a Member to the House of Commons at the previous general election. Any change in order to set this number would take place at the end of the first session of a Parliament. Lord Elton explained the Bill’s intentions in his Explanatory Notes to the Bill:

“The Bill aims to reduce the number of Peers who are Members of the House of Lords to a specified maximum number no greater than the number of Members of the House of Commons. The reduction would take place at the end of the first session after enactment, and at the end of the first session of every subsequent Parliament. The Prime Minister’s power to appoint Members of the House of Lords would continue. The size of the House could therefore increase during a Parliament, but would be reduced to the specified maximum number at the end of the first session of the next Parliament, and every subsequent Parliament.

The Bill would provide that the holder of a peerage would not be entitled to membership of the House of Lords after the first session of the Parliament following the one in which the holder first received a writ of summons unless the holder was excepted from this provision. The Bill would allow the House, through Standing Orders, to elect Peers to be so excepted, and therefore entitled to membership of the House”.

Provisions in the Bill would be implemented by a new Standing Order, which would be required to be proposed and accepted by the House should the Bill be enacted in its current form. Lord Elton has included a draft new Standing Order in his Explanatory Notes to the Bill.

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