Book Review: The Contemporary House of Lords by Meg Russell

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

A Venerable Puzzle

Like the late Rodney Dangerfield, the House of Lords don’t get no respect. Many observers dismiss it as politically irrelevant, and the media often ignores it. But while it’s undeniable that the House of Commons is the dominant chamber, it would be wrong to write off the Lords as a moribund anachronism. Those who actually study the upper house see a rather different picture. They see a chamber that is increasingly willing to flex its muscle and stand up to the government. In The House of Lords and Contemporary Politics, veteran Lords-watcher Dr. Meg Russell of UCL’s Constitution Unit provides a valuable analysis of how the chamber works in today’s Parliament.

The first part of the book provides a historical and theoretical framework for Dr. Russell’s approach. Her look at the powers of other second chambers is particularly illuminating because it emphasizes the fact that, despite the formal and informal limits on the Lords’ power, it…

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