The Lords’ loss of power to veto subsequent bills comes as good news to the Irish Nationalist Party because a third Home Rule Bill looked likely now that the Liberals are back in power and dependent on their support.
The power of the House of Lords was such that any bill passed in the House of Commons could be defeated and therefore rejected in the House of Lords. This meant that on occasions the Commons had to adjust a bill so that it was acceptable to the Lords and would therefore be passed. However, with society rapidly changing at the start of the Twentieth Century, it was only a matter of time before a clash occurred between both Houses.
This clash came in 1909. The Lords refused to pass the budget prepared by David Lloyd George, Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer. This so-called ‘People’s Budget’ had been touted as a mainstay of what was to become the Welfare State. There were many in the Liberal Party – who had won an overwhelming victory in the 1906 General Election – who saw the Lords as peers who simply abused their power and privilege. Over the next two years a campaign was started to reduce the power of the Lords. This culminated with the 1911 Parliament Act. The Lords still had the right to scrutinise bills passed by the Commons but they could no longer kill off a bill. The Lords could only reject a bill three times within one year. After this it became law. The 1949 Parliament Act ended the right of the Lords to stop any ‘money bills’.
Photo: David Lloyd George