• In Focus

    From the Hansard archives: Parliamentary firsts at the 1958 Queen’s Speech

    The state opening of Parliament in 1958 would be the last of that parliament, taking place 12 months before the election the following year. In the six days of debate on the address that followed, members responded to the government’s legislative programme, an agenda set in a context of ongoing international and domestic economic challenges. However, its significance lay in it being the occasion for two parliamentary firsts. This briefing looks back to find that the subsequent debates on the address saw the first contributions of life peers. It was also the first state opening to be televised.

  • Research Briefing

    Lengths of prorogation since 1900

    Prorogation is the mechanism by which parliamentary sessions are ended. This House of Lords Library briefing sets out the start and end dates of each parliamentary session since 1900, together with the number of calendar days between the end of the previous session and the start of the new one.

  • In Focus

    Sovereigns’ first state opening speeches

    For centuries it has been custom for the monarch to deliver a speech at the state opening of Parliament. It is formally known as the ‘speech from the throne’. King Charles III will deliver his first speech as sovereign on 7 November 2023. This briefing discusses how the custom developed and looks at some of the themes in previous first state opening speeches.

  • In Focus

    The restoration and renewal programme: Recent developments and next steps

    The restoration and renewal programme was created to preserve the Palace of Westminster. In 2022, the commissions of the House of Commons and House of Lords decided to change its governance structure. The progress made in implementing these changes and progressing the programme is outlined in its first annual report, published in July 2023. This article gives an overview of the history of the programme and provides a summary of its annual report. It also highlights plans for both Houses to debate a shortlist of delivery options before the end of 2023.

  • In Focus

    Membership of the House of Lords: July 2023 update

    The House of Lords has no fixed number of seats, and numbers can change week by week based on those leaving or joining the House. This article provides a snapshot of membership and composition in July 2023 and statistics on appointments and departures since 2014. It also considers recent concerns about the increasing size of the House and calls for reform, including recommendations from the Lord Speaker’s committee on the size of the House.

  • Research Briefing

    Hereditary by-elections: Results

    Hereditary peer by-elections are held within the House of Lords to replace excepted hereditary peers who have retired or died. This Lords Library briefing provides a list of hereditary peers’ by-election results since the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, including information on turn out and the number of candidates.

  • In Focus

    New life peerages in 2023: Boris Johnson’s resignation list

    Seven new life peerages were announced on 9 June 2023 as part of Boris Johnson’s resignation honours. It was reported that Mr Johnson’s original list had included a further eight names, but concerns were raised about these by the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC). This article includes information on how new life peerages are recommended and approved. It also contains statistics on recent appointments to the House of Lords and resignation honours.

  • In Focus

    Draft Public Order Act 1986 (Serious Disruption to the Life of the Community) Regulations 2023: ‘Fatal’ and ‘regret’ motions

    In response to protests by groups such as Just Stop Oil, the government has introduced secondary legislation which would lower the threshold for what kind of protests are classed as “serious disruption” in England and Wales. The regulations are controversial because the government previously tried to introduce the same changes during parliamentary consideration of the Public Order Act 2023. The House of Lords rejected the proposed measures at that time. The House is now set to debate the regulations and motions to ‘regret’ or reject them.

  • In Focus

    Women in the House of Lords: 65 years on

    This year marks the 65th anniversary of the Life Peerages Act 1958, which first allowed women to sit in the House of Lords. Since the act’s passing the proportion of female members in the House has progressively increased over time. However, women still only make up less than a third of the House’s membership. This piece contains statistics on women in the House of Lords since 1958.

  • In Focus

    The evolution of the Salisbury convention

    In recent years there have been three occasions in which leadership of the government has changed without a general election having been called. This has given rise to questions about the relationship between a government’s legislative agenda and its most recent election manifesto. This article looks at how the Salisbury convention has shaped the House of Lords’ treatment of government manifesto bills.