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On January 19, 1999, Tony Blair's government announced the most radical restructuring of the House of Lords, the UK's second chamber, in its 600-year existence. Honoring the Labour Party election manifesto, the Bill will remove all 759 hereditary peers, those with an automatic right to sit by virtue of birthright, within the year. In the meantime, a Royal Commission will formulate proposals for a new upper house and issue a report by December 31, 1999. A fully reformed chamber is expected to be in place by 2002, and in the meantime, publicly nominated "People's Peers" may sit in the Lords in addition to the politically appointed Life Peers. The BBC Special Report outlines this momentous constitutional change in Britain, and offers analysis, commentary, and the latest news.
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