With people discussing the pros and cons of its existence, you may find yourself asking what the House of Lords is, where it is, and what Alan Sugar has to do with anything. So why not mug up with our Idiot’s Guide To…The House Of Lords?
- The House of Lords is the second house in the Houses of Parliament. It is a semi-detached property on the right and is easily identifiable by the handrails and stair lifts going in to the entrance. It has a lovely garden with a view of the River Thames at the rear, and has a downstairs toilet making it perfect for those of an elderly disposition.
- MPs in the House of Commons refer to the House of Lords as ‘the other place’. There is a rivalry between the two houses which dates back over 400 years. This comes from an incident during the tenure of Oliver Cromwell when the Commons were defeated in a five-a-side football game by members of the Lords. Mr Cromwell was a little upset by the referees decision not to give him a penalty, so decided to abolish the Lords.
- The seats in the main debating chamber of the House of Lords are coloured red. There are many theories as to why this is, however the generally accepted idea is that if members were to wake up to an all-white décor, they may fear they had died in their sleep and gone to ‘the other, other place’.
- To become a member of the House of Lords you need to fulfil a couple of qualifying criteria. First, you ideally need to be over the age of 93. This is to ensure that when the government of the day puts legislation before you, you will fall asleep during the controversial bits. You also will ideally have been either the leader or a minister in a political party, but this rule can be sidestepped with a sizeable donation to the party of your choice. If you don’t qualify with any of these then there is still hope as, like some forms of dementia, membership can also be hereditary.
- The Lords was originally named after a cricket ground in London. This venue is also famous for housing old men who sleep during proceedings, applaud for no apparent reason and insist on everyone wearing a tie.
- The name of the House of Lords changed in 1984. Before this time it was noticed that those in the House of Lords always appeared happier than those in the Commons. For this reason it was officially known as the House of Gay Lords.
- The main responsibility of the House of Lords is to approve or reject laws put forward by the government of the day, but occasionally mistakes are made. The most noticeable error came in 1687 when the whole country famously found themselves floating after the Lords refused to approve Newton’s Law of Gravity.
- Calls have come in recent years for the House of Lords to be reformed, but many people wonder what a ‘reformed Lords’ would look like. History shows us that a reformed Lords would be just like reformed ham. It starts out with lots of bits nobody really wants, pushed together under extreme pressure, leaving something that is just about acceptable, but will go out of date quite quickly.
That about sums it up, but there is one last fact to leave you with. In the time it has taken for you to read this guide, up to three members of the House of Lords will have died.
Perks (hat-tip to seymour totti)