By Philip Giddings (eds.)

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130–1. Peeresses in their own right were admitted under the Life Peerages Act 1963. Baldwin allowed for multiple entries for an individual who has pursued more than one occupation. McNeill confined each entry to the occupation pursued for the longest period of time by the individual. The different methodologies affect particularly the figures for those listed under the heading of ‘politics’, making it difficult to regard the two figures as comparable; as a result, that category has been excluded from the table.

What would be the implications of having a smaller membership in the House of Commons? Does the Commons or indeed the Lords as well need to sit in plenary session so long and so often? Are there not other politically useful activities in which the Members could be engaged, and not all of them at Westminster? Are select committees adequately equipped for an effective and penetrating scrutiny of executive activity? Could they not usefully employ something like expert counsel (not necessarily lawyers) to interrogate on their behalf?

9% of MPs were either Conservative or Labour. Third parties, mostly the Liberals, had their by-election successes, but tended to fall back at general elections. 7% in 2001. Consequently, a number of Liberal Democrat, Scottish Nationalist and Plaid Cymru MPs have had parliamentary careers comparable in length to most Conservative and Labour Members. Many of the latter, however, have had ministerial careers denied their third party colleagues. Nonetheless, for most MPs political careers include the possibility of ministerial office and, of course, parliamentary office as Speaker or one of the now three Deputy Speakers.

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