This Sunday (30 November) BBC Parliament will be showing an evening of programmes to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Life Peerages Act. It will include a feature on one of the first women peers, Baroness Wootton of Abinger.
The 1958 Act has been the basis for the transformation of the second chamber. Before 1958, it was poorly attended and only sat for two or three days as week. Now, like the Commons, it is one of the busiest legislative chambers in the world. Average daily attendance exceeds 400 (in 2006-07 it was 415) and each session between 1,500 and 4,000 amendments to Government Bills are secured in the House. It gets on with its tasks in a straightforward and undemonstrative manner. What may seem surprising is that it is also a remarkably egalitarian institution.
This blog is designed to provide some insights into the current House. If you get an opportunity to watch BBC Parliament on Sunday, you will be able to get some idea of what is was like half-a-century ago.