Within the 2021-22 session of parliament, authorities defeats within the Home of Lords reached document ranges. Sam Anderson argues that two key elements mixed to drive this phenomenon. First, the Johnson authorities pursued a controversial legislative agenda. Second, it appeared in some circumstances unwilling to compromise the place proof means that earlier governments would have achieved so.
There have been quite a few examples all through Boris Johnson’s premiership of his authorities’s rocky relationship with parliament. One latest manifestation – famous elsewhere – was that there have been an unprecedented 128 authorities defeats within the Home of Lords within the 2021-22 parliamentary session. This led some authorities supporters to counsel that the Lords has turn into a ‘Home of opposition’ that ‘views themselves as there to hinder’ the federal government. However is that this evaluation honest?
The Structure Unit’s monitoring of when and on what subjects governments are defeated within the Home of Lords affords key insights. With information stretching again to 1999, we will evaluate such defeats between completely different governments over time. This weblog makes use of such information to dig deeper into the 128 defeats, looking for to know what might need brought about them. First, I argue that a lot of payments protecting subjects which have lengthy animated the Lords was an element. Second, I counsel that pressures which have previously elevated the probabilities that the federal government would make some form of concession to the Lords had much less impact beneath Johnson.
Lords defeats over time
The Structure Unit’s Meg Russell – who now serves as its Director – started recording defeats in 1999, when the Home of Lords Act eliminated most hereditary friends, breaking the Conservative dominance of the chamber. Since then, no single social gathering has had a majority within the Lords, making governments of all events extra weak to defeats there than within the Commons. Votes are after all only one type of parliamentary affect, however the Lords’ means to defeat the federal government has been an essential supply of institutional energy.
Desk 1 – Home of Lords defeats by session
|Parliamentary session||No. of presidency defeats within the Lords||Prime Minister|
|2015-16||60||Cameron (Con. maj.)|
*There was just one vote on this quick session, which lasted simply 15 sitting days
Desk 1 exhibits the extent to which the extent of defeats of Johnson’s authorities was unparalleled within the post-reform period. The entire defeats beneath Johnson (243) exceeded that beneath any of the earlier three Prime Ministers: Might (100), Cameron (158) and Brown (68). The 2021-22 session broke the earlier document, set within the 2019-21 session, additionally beneath Johnson. The subsequent highest sessional whole, in 2002-03, was virtually a 3rd smaller. The 128 defeats of the 2021-22 session usually are not solely a document for the post-reform period, however symbolize the best variety of defeats in a single session since data started in 1974 – beating even the pre-reform excessive of 126 within the 1975-76 session. The 2021-22 session additionally noticed the most important variety of defeats in in the future since 1999, 14 on 17 January 2022.
Substance and course of drove up defeat numbers
These outcomes result in the query of why all of those data (and extra beneath) had been damaged. The primary of those, I counsel, is the controversial nature of the Johnson authorities’s laws.
Desk 2 breaks down the 128 defeats of 2021-22 by invoice, exhibiting that they had been unfold throughout 16 payments in whole, with some attracting notably excessive numbers of defeats.
Desk 2 – defeats within the 2021-22 session
|Invoice*||No. of defeats|
|Nationality and Borders Invoice||34|
|Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Invoice||25|
|Well being and Care Invoice||17|
|Expertise and Publish-16 Schooling Invoice [HL]||9|
|Armed Forces Invoice||4|
|Constructing Security Invoice||4|
|Judicial Overview and Courts Invoice||4|
|Telecommunications (Safety) Invoice||2|
|Nationwide Insurance coverage Contributions Invoice||2|
|Leasehold Reform (Floor Lease) Invoice [HL]||1|
|Social Safety (Up-rating of Advantages) Invoice||1|
|Dormant Property Invoice [HL]||1|
|Superior Analysis and Invention Company Invoice||1|
|Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Invoice||1|
*There have been additionally 3 defeats on motions to remorse statutory devices
Desk 3 then exhibits the highest 10 payments on which the federal government was defeated within the Lords since 1999, and once more emphasises simply how uncommon the final three years has been. 5 of those 10 payments had been beneath the Johnson authorities, in comparison with simply two every from the far longer tenures of Blair and Cameron. Extra remarkably, 4 of those record-breaking payments – the Nationality and Borders Invoice, Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Invoice, Setting Invoice and Well being and Care Invoice – got here within the 2021-22 session alone. In fact, a lot of defeats general would possibly counsel a lot of defeats on plenty of particular person payments. However just one invoice every seems from the 2019-21 and 2002-03 periods, which respectively show the following highest numbers of defeats. Therefore these 4 payments do seem notably controversial.
Desk 3 – prime ten payments by variety of defeats, post-1999 reforms
|Invoice Identify||No. of Defeats||Session|
|Nationality and Borders Invoice||34||2021-22|
|Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Invoice||25||2021-22|
|Felony Justice Invoice||23||2002-03|
|Housing and Planning Invoice||19||2015-16|
|Prevention of Terrorism Invoice||18||2004-05|
|Well being and Care Invoice||17||2021-22|
|European Union (Withdrawal) Invoice||16||2017-19|
|Power Invoice [HL]||16||2015-16|
Earlier work on the post-reform Home of Lords has highlighted the significance to friends of ‘constitutional propriety’ and civil liberties, and such subjects arose on plenty of payments within the 2021-22 session. Three of the payments in Desk 2 – the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament, Elections, and Judicial Overview and Courts payments – immediately addressed constitutional issues, and friends defeated the federal government on amendments to every.
Defeats on the 4 general most controversial payments associated to those subjects too. For instance, a Lords defeat led the federal government to comply with larger exterior scrutiny when it used new powers beneath the Well being and Care Invoice. The federal government was additionally defeated 4 instances (twice at report stage and twice throughout ping pong) on amendments to the Setting Invoice. These sought respectively to make sure the independence of the brand new Workplace for Environmental Safety, and chill out proposed limitations on the sanctions courts may impose on the federal government if it breached environmental regulation. Debate and defeats on the Nationality and Borders Invoice had been virtually completely targeted on the civil liberties and human rights of immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Considerations over civil liberties throughout passage of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Invoice had been aggravated by issues about constitutional propriety, within the form of the parliamentary course of itself. Many friends opposed the substance of a variety of extremely controversial provisions, together with criminalising sure protest ways and increasing cease and search powers. However it was the ‘sharp apply’ of introducing main adjustments at report stage within the Lords, with out offering for any scrutiny by the Commons, and little-to-none by the Lords, that led to probably the most vital objections. Six of the 25 defeats on the invoice associated to those proposals, and since the federal government couldn’t reintroduce the provisions throughout ping pong, they needed to be dropped. Ministers subsequently selected to introduce a standalone invoice containing the identical offences within the subsequent (i.e. present) session.
Constitutional propriety – each when it comes to the substance and means of laws – and civil liberties stay extremely salient within the Lords. Within the phrases of the Labour Shadow Chief of the Home, Baroness (Angela) Smith of Basildon, pursuing ‘massively controversial’ payments and ways undoubtedly drove up the variety of authorities defeats within the 2021-22 session.
Altering legislative dynamics?
Defeats alone inform us little in regards to the final affect that the Lords has over remaining legislative outcomes, however the Unit’s earlier work has explored the hyperlink between the 2. In precept, the federal government can normally ask members of the Home of Commons to overturn Lords defeats, nevertheless it doesn’t all the time select to take action. Alternatively, the federal government can provide some form of concessionary modification, permitting MPs to compromise with the Lords’ place, or just ask MPs to simply accept the need of the Lords. From 1999-2012, solely 41% of defeats had been overturned on the invoice’s return to the Commons with none authorities concession being made; within the remaining circumstances, the ultimate end result took not less than some account of the Lords’ place. A key consider figuring out the federal government’s perspective to Lords defeats has been proven to be the temper amongst its personal backbenchers. For instance, the place the unique modification has been supported by authorities backbench friends, or moved by an unbiased Crossbench peer, a remaining end result nearer to the Lords’ place has been extra possible.
Full evaluation of the ultimate outcomes of defeats in newer years has not but been performed, so direct comparisons usually are not attainable. However a number of the figuring out elements mentioned above have, in plenty of key examples within the final session, not had the impact that earlier work suggests they typically do. First, the help of Crossbench friends was discovered to be a major issue within the probability of Lords success in 1999-2012, however might have been much less influential in 2021-22. Two proposed adjustments to the refugee and asylum clauses of the Nationality and Borders Invoice, arising from questions on its compliance with worldwide regulation, had been strongly supported by Crossbenchers. One modification, initially moved by group convenor Lord (Igor) Decide, then taken over by Labour’s Baroness (Shami) Chakrabarti, had overwhelming help from the Crossbenches, however was outright rejected by the federal government thrice. The opposite, moved by Crossbencher and former International Workplace Everlasting Secretary Lord (John) Kerr of Kinlochard, was additionally rejected thrice. On the Elections Invoice, opposition to the authorities’s proposal to set a ‘technique and coverage assertion’ for the unbiased Electoral Fee was once more led by Lord Decide, who was supported by 10 Conservative friends; the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (chaired by senior Conservative backbencher William Wragg), additionally opposed the plan. However heavy whipping in each Homes meant that there was no Conservative help for the Lords modification within the Commons, the place it was overturned, whereas proximity to the top of the session left the Lords little possibility however to again down.
Help from authorities backbench rebels additionally elevated probabilities of success from 1999-2012, however once more at key factors within the 2021-22 session, the federal government made no concessions on subjects which had vital backbench Conservative help. Conservative Baroness (Philippa) Stroud’s modification to the Nationality and Borders Invoice offering that sure asylum seekers ought to be permitted to work attracted a number of authorities rebels in each the Lords and the Commons, however was rejected by MPs on the recommendation of ministers. On the invoice’s return to the Lords for a 3rd time, Stroud was reportedly threatened with the removing of the whip if she supported her personal modification. Equally, when Conservative Baroness (Julia) Cumberlege tried to amend the Well being and Care Invoice to require the federal government to publish data on NHS staffing ranges, MPs rejected three variations of the modification, regardless of backbench help in each Homes.
There is no such thing as a doubt that the size of presidency defeats within the Home of Lords beneath Boris Johnson was record-breaking. Evaluation of the 2021-22 session means that two key elements contributed to this. First, the session was dominated by laws that engaged problems with constitutional propriety and civil liberties with which friends have lengthy been involved. The best way the federal government selected to deal with a few of these payments drove the variety of defeats up additional.
There’s additionally some anecdotal proof that elements which beforehand elevated the prospect of success for the Lords, akin to cross-party and authorities backbench help, might have been much less essential beneath Johnson, with the federal government extra prepared to override such issues. This seems to have utilized on the ping pong stage, and may have achieved so on the earlier phases – each of which might drive up the general variety of defeats. Nevertheless to make certain, this would wish extra systematic evaluation.
Defeats are a transparent indication of battle between the federal government and the Lords, and the dynamics of the 2021-22 session counsel that the document numbers had been pushed by much less consensual engaged on the a part of authorities. Will probably be fascinating to see if, beneath a brand new Prime Minister and Lords chief, extra widespread floor may be discovered within the present session.
In regards to the creator
Sam Anderson was a Analysis Assistant on the Structure Unit, and labored on the Authorities Defeats within the Home of Lords undertaking for the final three years.
Featured picture: “Home of Lords members debate EU Withdrawal Invoice” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by UK Parliament.