Members of the House of Lords

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overview


Your guide to who's who in the House of Lords.

You often hear about Members of Parliament - or MPs - on TV or in the newspapers. Each MP belongs to the House of Commons. But MPs aren't the only people who work in the Houses of Parliament.

There are over 700 men and women who make up Parliament's second chamber: the House of Lords.  

 

Need to know

Key facts about members of the House of LordsSome key facts to help you remember which Lords are which.

 

Lord spotting

House of Lords chamberHave a look where members of the Lords work when they're in Parliament.

 

Useful links

Useful linksLearn more about who's who in the House of Lords. Watch videos and find links and resources.

 

need to know


What do you know about the men and women who work in the House of Lords?


Who are the Lords?


Lords have often led distinguished lives

Members of the House of Lords come from a variety of backgrounds, including politics, education, sport, science and the arts. The knowledge they gain from their careers helps them in their work in Parliament.

 

Some Lords belong to political parties, and some don't

Members of the House of LordsThere are over 700 members of the Lords. Many belong to one of the UK's main political parties: the Labour Party, the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats. Around 180 others are known as 'crossbenchers'. They don't represent any particular political party.

 

Most Lords are appointed by the Queen

The Queen appoints new Lords on the advice of the prime minister. The prime minister decides who gets to become a 'life peer' after getting recommendations from other political party leaders and an independent appointments commission.

 

Some Lords are known as 'hereditary peers'

Not every Lord is appointed though. Under the old membership system, peers passed their place in the House of Lords on to their children. However, Parliament decided to change the rules in 1999. Several hundred peers lost their places, leaving 92. These remaining Lords are known as 'hereditary peers'.

 

Becoming a 'peer' is for life

All members of the House of Lords get titles like 'Lord Smith' or 'Baroness Adams'. These titles are called 'peerages'. Everyone who gets a peerage will keep their title and membership for the rest of their lives. Because the rules were changed though, hereditary peers will not pass their places in the Lords to their children.  

  

A few Lords are also bishops from the Church of England

A number of bishops in the Church of England also belong to the House of Lords. The 26 most senior archbishops and bishops are always members. They aren't necessarily life-long members though. A bishop who retires will pass their place on to the next bishop in line.

 

Some Lords become members of the UK government

Number 10 Downing Street - home of the prime ministerThe prime minister asks a number of Lords to join the government. They take on the role of ministers and represent the government in the House of Lords. Government ministers take charge of presenting the government's plans for new laws.

 

Lord spotting


Where you'll find members of the Lords in Parliament.


Where you'll find Lords at work


House of Lords chamber

The Lords chamber is where its members spend a lot of time debating and looking at the detail of new laws.

 

In committees

The Palace of Westminster has some grand rooms. A few are used for committee meetings, where members of the House of Lords will meet to investigate the work of the government.


 

useful links


Learn more about the men and women who work in the House of Lords.


Links and resources


Life as a life peer

Five life peers discuss their experiences, and the law that made it possible for them to join the House of Lords: the Life Peerages Act. 

 

Virtual tour: House of Lords chamber

Explore every inch of the House of Lords chamber from the comfort of your computer screen. It's where Lords meet, debate and vote.

 

Different types of Lords

More about who's who in the House of Lords. This article explains the difference between life peers, elected hereditary peers and the bishops.

 

How to become a Lord

There's more than one way into the House of Lords. Here's an article explaining the different routes to Parliament's second chamber.

 

A Changing House: Life Peerages Act 1958

This online exhibition includes documents, videos, articles and a timeline exploring the Act of Parliament that changed the face of the House of Lords.

 

BBC: Democracy Live

BBC: House of Lords chamber footageWatch and follow the live proceedings in the House of Lords chamber and the rest of Parliament with the BBC.

 

Related information

What does the Lord Speaker do? And how can the House of Lords help young people address issues that concern them?

Where they work

In pictures: House of Lords chamberParliament has two 'houses': the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Members of the House of Lords help make new laws.

Buzzwords

  • Peers are members of the House of Lords. There are different types. Most are 'life peers', appointed by the Queen. Members who inherited a place through their families are called 'hereditary peers'. There are also 26 bishops.

They said it...

'I do not object to people looking at their watches when I am speaking. But I strongly object when they start shaking them to make certain they are still going.'

  • Lord Birkett jokes about speechmaking in the chamber (1960)