100 Years Ago – 1 April 1920

1 April 1920

The Liberal MP Arthur Murray asked Andrew Bonar Law, who was then Leader of the House but who became Prime Minister, why proportional representation was being introduced in Ireland but was seen as inappropriate in Great Britain. Bonar Law refused to answer the question and he also rejected the idea of cancelling the introduction of proportional representation (PR) in Ireland. The system of PR was maintained in Ireland in 1922 after independence and it remains in usage today, even though there have been two referendums which recommended reverting to a similar electorate system as used in the UK.

Andrew Bonar Law was also asked whether the Government would be implementing the recommendations of the Bryce Report into modernisation of the House of Lords. Lord Bryce recommended a change in the composition of the Upper House, with 75% elected indirectly by members of the House of Commons on a regional basis and 25% which would be appointed by a Joint Standing Committee of both Houses, retaining a proportion of hereditary peers and bishops. The Government didn’t introduce the proposed changes and the House of Lords today remains broadly unchanged, with the exception of the Blair reforms which abolished most hereditary peerages.