Life Peer

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Life Peers are political appointments to the UK House of Lords whose appointees are only peers in their lifetimes, as opposed to hereditary titles. The old hereditary Lords contemptuously referred to them as "temps". Moreover, many hereditary peers argued that the House of Lords was a chamber established by the Monarch for his/her appointees and that a recommendation for change was not something that the House of Commons had any authority to vote upon.

Life Peerage Bill=

By the 1950s, there was increasing pressure from The Left (liberals, socialists etc) for creating Life Peers, appointed by the Government of the day only for life, rather than on a hereditary basis.

In November 1957, a Life Peerages Bill was introduced into the Lords by the fake Conservative Party.


The clause included in the Bill relating to the creation of women peers caused the greatest agitation. An amendment to exclude women from the House was however defeated at committee stage by 134 votes to 30. Viscount Astor, whose mother (both Americans) had been the first woman MP, was a vocal advocate for women peers and Lord Chatfield said it was absurd to exclude representatives of half the nation, a meaningless left-wing equality for equality's sake statement.

Bill passes Commons

The Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on 2 April 1958 by 292 votes to 241, a modest majority of 51 with 117 abstentions. Many felt that this reform did not go far enough. For example, hereditary peerages could still be created.

However, the problem of peers who attended very infrequently – known colloquially as backwoodsmen - was tackled. There was no compulsion upon Their Lordships to attend the House. Those peers who either did not want to attend, or were unable, could apply leave of absence for the length of a parliamentary session, which would always be granted. Being a peer meant you had the absolute right to sit in the House at any time. This right terminates at death for Life Peer.

The Bill received Royal Assent on 30 April and the first fourteen life Peers were announced on 24 July 1958.