House of Lords

The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled,[2] is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster.[3][4]

House of Lords of the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Type
Type
Leadership
Structure
Seats
Political groups
  Lord Speaker (1)
Lords Spiritual
  Archbishops and Bishops (26)[lower-alpha 2]
Lords Temporal
HM Government
  Conservative Party (262)
HM Most Loyal Opposition
  Labour Party (171)
Other groups
  Liberal Democrats (85)
  Democratic Unionist Party (5)
  Green Party (2)
  Ulster Unionist Party (2)
  Plaid Cymru (1)
  Non-affiliated (46)
Crossbench
  Crossbenchers (187)
SalaryNo annual salary, but tax-free daily allowance and expenses paid.
Meeting place
House of Lords Chamber
Palace of Westminster
City of Westminster
London, England
United Kingdom
Website
www.parliament.uk/lords
Footnotes
  1. Excludes 37 peers on leave of absence or otherwise disqualified from sitting
  2. The Lords Spiritual sit on the Government benches.

Members of the House of Lords are drawn from the peerage, made up of Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. The Lords Spiritual are 26 archbishops and bishops in the established Church of England.[5] Most Lords Temporal are life peers, appointed by the monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister or House of Lords Appointments Commission, but they also include hereditary peers.[6]

Membership was once an entitlement of all hereditary peers, other than those in the peerage of Ireland, but the House of Lords Act 1999 restricted it to 92 hereditary peers.[7] Since the resignation of the Countess of Mar in May 2020 (who had been the only female hereditary peer since 2014), none of these 92 is female. Most hereditary peerages can be inherited only by men.[8]

While the House of Commons has a defined number of members, the number of members in the House of Lords is not fixed. Currently, it has 788 sitting members. The House of Lords is the only upper house of any bicameral parliament in the world to be larger than its lower house,[9] and is the second-largest legislative chamber in the world behind the Chinese National People's Congress.

The House of Lords scrutinises bills that have been approved by the House of Commons.[10] It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons.[11] While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances,[12] it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions.[13] In this capacity, the House of Lords acts as a check on the House of Commons that is independent from the electoral process.[14][15][16] Bills can be introduced into either the House of Lords or the House of Commons. While members of the Lords may also take on roles as government ministers, high-ranking officials such as cabinet ministers are usually drawn from the Commons. The House of Lords has its own support services, separate from the Commons, including the House of Lords Library.

The Queen's Speech is delivered in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament. In addition to its role as the upper house, until the establishment of the Supreme Court in 2009, the House of Lords, through the Law Lords, acted as the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom judicial system.[17] The House also has a Church of England role, in that Church Measures must be tabled within the House by the Lords Spiritual.