My colleague, Lord Rowlands, a former Chairman of the History of Parliament Trust, has written a fascinating study of the House of Lords in the early eighteenth century. It reveals some notable differences from the present House. Then as now, debates could be lengthy. However, so too could speeches, with a peer sometimes speaking for two or two-and-a-half hours. Nowadays, we have time limits. Even more remarkable was when members reflected on what they wished to say:
‘One extraordinary feature of a few of the early eighteenth century debates, which would seem unimaginable to present day members, was silence. There, actually, were occasions when members would sit for a quarter/half an hour before anyone would rise.’
Those were the days!