Members of the House of Lords - image slideshow

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.

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

There 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 a 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

The 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.