The House of Lords, the older of the two Houses of Parliament, is one of the marvels of Britain. As an institution, composed of hereditary peers, life peers, Law Lords and bishops, it defies comparison with any other senate in the world. Its seniority to the House of Commons is reflected in the splendour of its decoration, enriched with opulent gilding, masterly carving and works of art. This is the setting in which legislation is introduced and revised; issues concerning the public are debated; and until recently judgements from Britain’s supreme court delivered.
The house of Lords has endured, evolving, throughout a millennium. In its present form, it is a scarcely believable phenomenon. No single person, not even a constitutional genius, could have devised the peculiar means of selection, the character of those attending, the rigmarole to which grown men and women happily (usually) submit themselves, the anomalies, the curiosity of the traditions or the panoply of the architecture (it took both Charles Barry and A.W.N.Pugin to do that.) Now the debate on its future is intense. Arguably, the House of Lords is more active now than it has ever been. And it arouses strong passions.
At a time of reappraisal and reform, Clive Aslet and the photographer Derry Moore (a.k.a.The Earl of Drogheda) have taken a privileged look inside the House of Lords, using the opportunity to interview a wide range of peers and those who serve them, with unlimited access to the building, to produce a sumptuous and unrivalled portrait of an institution and the people who make it work.