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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, is the upper house of the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
. Membership is by
appointment Appointment may refer to: Law *The prerogative In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
,
heredity Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits Trait may refer to: * Phenotypic trait in biology, which involve genes and characteristics of organisms * Trait (computer programming), a model for str ...
or
official functionAn official function is either an event, such as a convention (meeting), convention, that has an official purpose for one's employment, vocation or profession-whether run by a person, institution or governmental agency-or an official duty. Attending ...
. Like the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
, it meets in the
Palace of Westminster The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Towns ...

Palace of Westminster
.
Members of the House of Lords This is a list of members of the 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, is the of the . Membershi ...
are drawn from the
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
, made up of
Lords Spiritual The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...
and
Lords Temporal The Lords Temporal are secular members of the House of Lords The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by appointment, heredity or official function. Like the House of Commons of the United K ...
. The Lords Spiritual are 26
archbishop In many Christian Denominations Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...
s and
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
s in the established
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. Most Lords Temporal are
life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefe ...
s, appointed by the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...
on the advice of the
Prime Minister A prime minister or a premier is the head of the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-shaped piece of furniture with doors and/or drawers * Display cabinet, a piece of furniture with one or more transpar ...
or
House of Lords Appointments Commission The House of Lords Appointments Commission is an independent advisory non-departmental public bodyIn the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Treasury, the Scottish Gover ...
, but they also include
hereditary peer The hereditary peers form part of the peerage in the United Kingdom. As of 2021 there are 810 hereditary peers: 30 dukes (including six royal dukes), 34 marquesses, 191 earls, List of viscounts in the peerages of Britain and Ireland, 112 visco ...
s. Membership was once an entitlement of all hereditary peers, other than those in the
peerage of Ireland The Peerage of Ireland consists of those Peerage, titles of nobility created by the Monarchy of Ireland, English monarchs in their capacity as Lordship of Ireland, Lord or Monarchy of Ireland, King of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the Uni ...
, but the
House of Lords Act 1999 The House of Lords Act 1999 (c. 34) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. The Act Lords Reform, reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. For ...
restricted it to 92 hereditary peers. Since the resignation of the
Countess of Mar The title Mormaer or Earl of Mar has been created several times, all in the Peerage of Scotland. Owing to a 19th-century dispute, there are currently two Earls of Mar as both the first and seventh creations are currently extant. The first creation ...
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. 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 sitting members. The House of Lords is the only upper house of any
bicameral parliament Bicameralism is the practice of having a legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, ...
in the world to be larger than its lower house, 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. It regularly reviews and amends Bills from the Commons. While it is unable to prevent Bills passing into law, except in certain limited circumstances, it can delay Bills and force the Commons to reconsider their decisions. In this capacity, the House of Lords acts as a check on the House of Commons that is independent from the electoral process. 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 A speech from the throne (or throne speech) is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign, or a representative thereof, reads a prepared speech to members of the nation’s legislature when a legislative session, session is ...
is delivered in the House of Lords during the
State Opening of Parliament#REDIRECT State Opening of Parliament The State Opening of Parliament is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty ...
. In addition to its role as the upper house, until the establishment of the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...
in 2009, the House of Lords, through the
Law Lords Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 to the British House of Lords, as a committee for the house, to exercise its Judicial functions of the House of Lords, judi ...
, acted as the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom judicial system. The House also has a
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
role, in that Church Measures must be tabled within the House by the Lords Spiritual.


History

Today's Parliament of the United Kingdom largely descends, in practice, from the
Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature of the Kingdom of England from the mid 13th to 17th century. The first English Parliament was convened in 1215, with the creation and signing of the Magna Carta, which established the rights of ba ...
, through the
Treaty of Union A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law. It is usually entered into by sovereign states and international organizations, but can sometimes include individuals, business entities, and other L ...

Treaty of Union
of 1706 and the
Acts of UnionAct of Union may refer to: In Great Britain and Ireland * Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542, passed during the reign of King Henry VIII to make Wales a part of the Kingdom of England (These laws are often referred to in the plural as the "Acts of Un ...
that ratified the Treaty in 1707 and created a new
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
to replace the Parliament of England and the
Parliament of Scotland The Parliament of Scotland ( sco, Pairlament o Scotland; gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba) was the legislature A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a ...
. This new parliament was, in effect, the continuation of the Parliament of England with the addition of 45
Members of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) p ...
(MPs) and 16 Peers to represent Scotland. The House of Lords developed from the "Great Council" (''
Magnum Concilium In the Kingdom of England, the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council, is an Deliberative assembly, assembly that was historically convened at certain times of the year when church leaders and wealthy landowners were invited to discuss the affairs of th ...
'') that advised the King during medieval times. Loveland (2009) p. 158 This royal council came to be composed of ecclesiastics, noblemen, and representatives of the
counties of England The counties of England are areas used for different purposes, which include administrative, geographical, cultural and political demarcation. The term 'county' is defined in several ways and can apply to similar or the same areas used by each ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an individual's birth, residence or citizenship. A country may be an independent sovereign ...
(afterwards, representatives of the
boroughs A borough is an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are generic names for ...
as well). The first English Parliament is often considered to be the "
Model Parliament The Model Parliament is the term, attributed to Frederic William Maitland Frederic William Maitland (28 May 1850 – ) was an English historian and lawyer who is regarded as the modern father of English legal history. Early life and educat ...
" (held in 1295), which included archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, and representatives of the shires and boroughs. The power of Parliament grew slowly, fluctuating as the strength of the monarchy grew or declined. For example, during much of the reign of
Edward II Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England from 1307 until he was deposed in January 1327. The fourth son of Edward I, Edward became the heir apparent to the throne fo ...

Edward II
(1307–1327), the
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
was supreme, the
Crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Crown. It was excavated by Swedish Crown Pri ...
weak, and the shire and borough representatives entirely powerless. During the reign of Edward II's successor,
Edward III Edward III (13 November 131221 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death in 1377. He is noted for his military success and for restoring royal aut ...

Edward III
, Parliament clearly separated into two distinct
chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, West Virginia *Chambers Township, Holt Coun ...
: the House of Commons (consisting of the shire and borough representatives) and the House of Lords (consisting of the archbishops, bishops, abbots and peers). The authority of Parliament continued to grow, and during the early 15th century both Houses exercised powers to an extent not seen before. The Lords were far more powerful than the Commons because of the great influence of the great landowners and the prelates of the realm. The power of the nobility declined during the civil wars of the late 15th century, known as the
Wars of the Roses The Wars of the Roses were a series of fifteenth-century English civil wars for control of the throne of England, fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, represented by a ...
. Much of the nobility was killed on the battlefield or executed for participation in the war, and many aristocratic estates were lost to the Crown. Moreover,
feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5t ...
was dying, and the
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discov ...
armies controlled by the
barons Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the ...
became obsolete. Henry VII (1485–1509) clearly established the supremacy of the monarch, symbolised by the "Crown Imperial". The domination of the Sovereign continued to grow during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs in the 16th century. The Crown was at the height of its power during the reign of
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...
(1509–1547). The House of Lords remained more powerful than the House of Commons, but the Lower House continued to grow in influence, reaching a zenith in relation to the House of Lords during the middle 17th century. Conflicts between the King and the Parliament (for the most part, the House of Commons) ultimately led to the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governance and issues of re ...
during the 1640s. In 1649, after the defeat and execution of
King Charles I of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen re ...

King Charles I
, the
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
was declared, but the nation was effectively under the overall control of
Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell (25 April 15993 September 1658) was an English general and statesman who, first as a subordinate and later as Commander-in-Chief, led of the against King during the , subsequently ruling the as from 1653 until his death i ...

Oliver Cromwell
, Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. The House of Lords was reduced to a largely powerless body, with Cromwell and his supporters in the Commons dominating the Government. On 19 March 1649, the House of Lords was abolished by an Act of Parliament, which declared that "The Commons of England
ind
ind
by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England." The House of Lords did not assemble again until the Convention Parliament met in 1660 and the monarchy was restored. It returned to its former position as the more powerful chamber of Parliament—a position it would occupy until the 19th century.


19th century

The 19th century was marked by several changes to the House of Lords. The House, once a body of only about 50 members, had been greatly enlarged by the liberality of
George III
George III
and his successors in creating peerages. The individual influence of a Lord of Parliament was thus diminished. Moreover, the power of the House as a whole decreased, whilst that of the House of Commons grew. Particularly notable in the development of the Lower House's superiority was the
Reform Bill of 1832 The Representation of the People Act 1832 (also known as the 1832 Reform Act, Great Reform Act or First Reform Act) was an Act of Parliament, Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom (indexed as 2 & 3 Will. IV c. 45) that introduced major changes ...
. The electoral system of the House of Commons was far from democratic: property qualifications greatly restricted the size of the electorate, and the boundaries of many constituencies had not been changed for centuries. Entire cities such as
Manchester Manchester () is the most-populous city and metropolitan borough A metropolitan borough is a type of local government district The districts of England (also known as local authority districts or local government districts to distinguis ...

Manchester
had not even one representative in the House of Commons, while the 11 voters living in
Old Sarum Old Sarum, in Wiltshire Wiltshire (; abbreviated Wilts) is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in South West England with an area of . It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordsh ...
retained their ancient right to elect two MPs. A small borough was susceptible to bribery, and was often under the control of a patron, whose nominee was guaranteed to win an election. Some aristocrats were patrons of numerous " pocket boroughs", and therefore controlled a considerable part of the membership of the House of Commons. When the House of Commons passed a Reform Bill to correct some of these anomalies in 1831, the House of Lords rejected the proposal. The popular cause of reform, however, was not abandoned by the ministry, despite a second rejection of the bill in 1832. Prime Minister
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, (13 March 1764 – 17 July 1845), known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 to 1834. He was a descendant of the noble ...
advised the King to overwhelm opposition to the bill in the House of Lords by creating about 80 new pro-Reform peers.
William IV William IV (William Henry; 21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England ...

William IV
originally balked at the proposal, which effectively threatened the opposition of the House of Lords, but at length relented. Before the new peers were created, however, the Lords who opposed the bill admitted defeat and abstained from the vote, allowing the passage of the bill. The crisis damaged the political influence of the House of Lords but did not altogether end it. A vital reform was effected by the Lords themselves in 1868, when they changed their standing orders to abolish proxy voting, preventing Lords from voting without taking the trouble to attend. Over the course of the century the powers of the upper house were further reduced stepwise, culminating in the 20th century with the
Parliament Act 1911 The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make l ...

Parliament Act 1911
; the Commons gradually became the stronger House of Parliament.


20th century

The status of the House of Lords returned to the forefront of debate after the election of a Liberal Government in 1906. In 1909 the
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
,
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. The last ...

David Lloyd George
, introduced into the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...
the "
People's Budget The 1909/1910 People's Budget was a proposal of the Liberal government that introduced unprecedented taxes on the lands and incomes of Britain's wealthy to fund new social welfare programmes. It passed the House of Commons The House of Commo ...
", which proposed a land tax targeting wealthy landowners. The popular measure, however, was defeated in the heavily Conservative House of Lords. Having made the powers of the House of Lords a primary campaign issue, the Liberals were narrowly re-elected in January 1910. The Liberals had lost most of their support in Lords, which was routinely rejecting Liberals' bills. Prime Minister
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
then proposed that the powers of the House of Lords be severely curtailed. After a further general election in
December 1910 The following events occurred in December 1910: December 1 Events * 800 – Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Gro ...
, and with a reluctant promise by King
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A co ...

George V
to create sufficient new Liberal peers to overcome Lords' opposition to the measure if necessary, the Asquith Government secured the passage of a bill to curtail the powers of the House of Lords. The
Parliament Act 1911 The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make l ...

Parliament Act 1911
effectively abolished the power of the House of Lords to reject legislation, or to amend it in a way unacceptable to the House of Commons: most bills could be delayed for no more than three parliamentary sessions or two calendar years. It was not meant to be a permanent solution; more comprehensive reforms were planned. Neither party, however, pursued the matter with much enthusiasm, and the House of Lords remained primarily hereditary. The
Parliament Act 1949 The Parliament Act 1949 (12, 13 & 14 Geo. 6 c. 103) is an Acts of Parliament in the United Kingdom, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It reduced the power of the House of Lords to delay certain types of legislation – specificall ...

Parliament Act 1949
reduced the delaying power of the House of Lords further to two sessions or one year. In 1958 the predominantly hereditary nature of the House of Lords was changed by the
Life Peerages Act 1958 The Life Peerages Act 1958 established the modern standards for the creation of life peers by the British monarchy, Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Background This Act was made during the Conservative Government 1957–1964, Conservative governme ...
, which authorised the creation of life baronies, with no numerical limits. The number of Life Peers then gradually increased, though not at a constant rate. The Labour Party had, for most of the 20th century, a commitment, based on the party's historic opposition to class privilege, to abolish the House of Lords, or at least expel the hereditary element. In 1968 the Labour Government of
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
attempted to reform the House of Lords by introducing a system under which hereditary peers would be allowed to remain in the House and take part in debate, but would be unable to vote. This plan, however, was defeated in the House of Commons by a coalition of traditionalist Conservatives (such as
Enoch Powell John Enoch Powell (16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, and poet. He served as a Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Member of Parliament (1950–1974), then U ...
), and Labour members who continued to advocate the outright abolition of the Upper House (such as
Michael Foot Michael Mackintosh Foot (23 July 19133 March 2010) was a British Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbu ...
). When Michael Foot became leader of the Labour Party in 1980, abolition of the House of Lords became a part of the party's agenda; under his successor,
Neil Kinnock Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock (born 28 March 1942) is a Welsh politician. As a member of the Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – ...
, however, a reformed Upper House was proposed instead. In the meantime, the creation of hereditary peerages (except for members of the Royal Family) has been arrested, with the exception of three creations during the administration of the Conservative
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
in the 1980s. Whilst some hereditary peers were at best apathetic, the Labour Party's clear commitments were not lost on Merlin Hanbury-Tracy, 7th Baron Sudeley, who for decades was considered an expert on the House of Lords. In December 1979 the
Conservative Monday Club The Conservative Monday Club (usually known as the Monday Club) is a British political pressure group, aligned with the Conservative Party, though no longer endorsed by it. It also has links to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Ulster Unio ...
published his extensive paper entitled ''Lords Reform – Why tamper with the House of Lords?'' and in July 1980 ''The Monarchist'' carried another article by Sudeley entitled ''Why Reform or Abolish the House of Lords?''. In 1990 he wrote a further booklet for the Monday Club entitled ''The Preservation of the House of Lords''.


Lords reform


First admission of women

There were no women sitting in the House of Lords until 1958, when a small number came into the chamber as a result of the
Life Peerages Act 1958 The Life Peerages Act 1958 established the modern standards for the creation of life peers by the British monarchy, Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Background This Act was made during the Conservative Government 1957–1964, Conservative governme ...
. One of these was
Irene Curzon, 2nd Baroness Ravensdale Mary Irene Curzon, 2nd Baroness Ravensdale, Baroness Ravensdale of Kedleston, CBE (20 January 1896 – 9 February 1966), was an English noblewoman, socialite and philanthropist. The eldest child of George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedle ...
, who had inherited her father's peerage in 1925 and was made a life peer to enable her to sit. After a campaign stretching back in some cases to the 1920s, another twelve women who held hereditary peerages in their own right were admitted by the
Peerage Act 1963 The Peerage Act 1963 (c. 48) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, ...
.


New Labour Era

The Labour Party included in its 1997 general election
manifesto A manifesto is a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a ...

manifesto
a commitment to remove the hereditary peerage from the House of Lords. Their subsequent election victory in 1997 under
Tony Blair Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. On his resig ...

Tony Blair
led to the denouement of the traditional House of Lords. The Labour Government introduced legislation to expel all hereditary peers from the Upper House as a first step in Lords reform. As a part of a compromise, however, it agreed to permit 92 hereditary peers to remain until the reforms were complete. Thus all but 92 hereditary peers were expelled under the House of Lords Act 1999 (see below for its provisions), making the House of Lords predominantly an appointed house. Since 1999, however, no further reform has taken place. The
Wakeham Commission''A House for the Future'', known as the Wakeham Report, published in 2000, was the report of a Royal Commission A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue in some monarchies. They have been held in the Unit ...
proposed introducing a 20% elected element to the Lords, but this plan was widely criticised. A parliamentary Joint Committee was established in 2001 to resolve the issue, but it reached no conclusion and instead gave Parliament seven options to choose from (fully appointed, 20% elected, 40% elected, 50% elected, 60% elected, 80%, and fully elected). In a confusing series of votes in February 2003, all of these options were defeated, although the 80% elected option fell by just three votes in the Commons. Socialist MPs favouring outright abolition voted against all the options. In 2005, a cross-party group of senior MPs (
Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Harry Clarke, Baron Clarke of Nottingham, (born 2 July 1940), often known as Ken Clarke, is a British politician who served as Home Secretary from 1992 to 1993 and Chancellor of the Exchequer The Chancellor of the Exchequer, often ...
,
Paul Tyler Paul Archer Tyler, Baron Tyler, Order of the British Empire, CBE, Privy Council of the United Kingdom, PC, Deputy Lieutenant, DL (born 29 October 1941) is a Liberal Democrats (UK), Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom. He was a Member ...
, Tony Wright, George Young and
Robin Cook Robert Finlayson Cook (28 February 19466 August 2005) was a British Labour Party (UK), Labour Party politician, who served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Livingston (UK Parliament constituency), Livi ...
) published a report proposing that 70% of members of the House of Lords should be elected — each member for a single long term — by the
single transferable vote Single transferable vote (STV) is a type of ranked preferential electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Poli ...
system. Most of the remainder were to be appointed by a Commission to ensure a mix of "skills, knowledge and experience". This proposal was also not implemented. A cross-party campaign initiative called " Elect the Lords" was set up to make the case for a predominantly elected Second Chamber in the run up to the 2005 general election. At the 2005 election, the Labour Party proposed further reform of the Lords, but without specific details. The Conservative Party, which had, prior to 1997, opposed any tampering with the House of Lords, favoured an 80% elected Second Chamber, while the Liberal Democrats called for a fully elected
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

Senate
. During 2006, a cross-party committee discussed Lords reform, with the aim of reaching a consensus: its findings were published in early 2007. On 7 March 2007, members of the House of Commons voted ten times on a variety of alternative compositions for the upper chamber. Outright abolition, a wholly appointed house, a 20% elected house, a 40% elected house, a 50% elected house and a 60% elected house were all defeated in turn. Finally the vote for an 80% elected chamber was won by 305 votes to 267, and the vote for a wholly elected chamber was won by an even greater margin: 337 to 224. Significantly this last vote represented an overall majority of MPs. Furthermore, examination of the names of MPs voting at each division shows that, of the 305 who voted for the 80% elected option, 211 went on to vote for the 100% elected option. Given that this vote took place after the vote on 80% – whose result was already known when the vote on 100% took place – this showed a clear preference for a fully elected upper house among those who voted for the only other option that passed. But this was nevertheless only an indicative vote and many political and legislative hurdles remained to be overcome for supporters of an elected second chamber. The House of Lords, soon after, rejected this proposal and voted for an entirely appointed House of Lords. In July 2008,
Jack Straw John Whitaker Straw (born 3 August 1946) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Blackburn (UK Parliament constituency), Blackburn from 1979 United Kingdom general election, ...

Jack Straw
, the
Secretary of State for Justice The Secretary of State for Justice, also referred to as the Justice Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describe a minister of the reigning sover ...
and
Lord Chancellor The Lord Chancellor, formally the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking among the in in the , nominally outranking the . The lord chancellor is appointed by the on the advice of the prime minister. Prior to their i ...
, introduced a
white paper A white paper is a report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body's philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metap ...

white paper
to the House of Commons proposing to replace the House of Lords with an 80–100% elected chamber, with one third being elected at each general election, for a term of approximately 12–15 years. The white paper stated that as the peerage would be totally separated from membership of the upper house, the name "House of Lords" would no longer be appropriate: it went on to explain that there is cross-party consensus for the new chamber to be titled the "Senate of the United Kingdom"; however, to ensure the debate remains on the role of the upper house rather than its title, the white paper was neutral on the title of the new house. On 30 November 2009, a ''Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords'' was agreed by them; certain amendments were agreed by them on 30 March 2010 and on 12 June 2014. The scandal over expenses in the Commons was at its highest pitch only six months before, and the Labourite leadership under
Janet Royall, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Janet Anne Royall, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, (born 20 August 1955), is a British Labour Co-operative Party politician. She was Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council. She is the principal of Somerville College, Oxfor ...
determined that something sympathetic should be done. In Meg Russell's article "Is the House of Lords already reformed?", she states three essential features of a legitimate House of Lords. The first is that it must have adequate powers over legislation to make the government think twice before making a decision. The House of Lords, she argues, currently has enough power to make it relevant. (During Tony Blair's first year, he was defeated 38 times in the Lords—but that was before the major reform with the House of Lords Act 1999) Secondly, as to the composition of the Lords, Meg Russell suggests that the composition must be distinct from the Commons, otherwise it would render the Lords useless. The third feature is the perceived legitimacy of the Lords. She writes, "In general legitimacy comes with election."


2010–present

The Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition agreed, after the 2010 general election, to outline clearly a provision for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber, elected by proportional representation. These proposals sparked a debate on 29 June 2010. As an interim measure, appointment of new peers would reflect the shares of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election. Detailed proposals for Lords reform, including a draft House of Lords Reform Bill, were published on 17 May 2011. These included a 300-member hybrid house, of whom 80% would be elected. A further 20% would be appointed, and reserve space would be included for some Church of England archbishops and bishops. Under the proposals, members would also serve single non-renewable terms of 15 years. Former MPs would be allowed to stand for election to the Upper House, but members of the Upper House would not be immediately allowed to become MPs. The details of the proposal were: * The upper chamber shall continue to be known as the House of Lords for legislative purposes. * The reformed House of Lords should have 300 members of whom 240 are "Elected Members" and 60 appointed "Independent Members". Up to 12 Church of England archbishops and bishops may sit in the house as ''ex officio'' "Lords Spiritual". * Elected Members will serve a single, non-renewable term of 15 years. * Elections to the reformed Lords should take place at the same time as elections to the House of Commons. * Elected Members should be elected using the
Single Transferable Vote Single transferable vote (STV) is a type of ranked preferential electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Poli ...
system of proportional representation. * Twenty Independent Members (a third) shall take their seats within the reformed house at the same time as elected members do so, and for the same 15-year term. * Independent Members will be appointed by the Queen after being proposed by the Prime Minister acting on advice of an Appointments Commission. * There will no longer be a link between the peerage system and membership of the upper house. * The current powers of the House of Lords would not change and the House of Commons shall retain its status as the primary House of Parliament. The proposals were considered by a Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform made up of both MPs and Peers, which issued its final report on 23 April 2012, making the following suggestions: * The reformed House of Lords should have 450 members. * Party groupings, including the Crossbenchers, should choose which of their members are retained in the transition period, with the percentage of members allotted to each group based on their share of the peers with high attendance during a given period. * Up to 12 Lords Spiritual should be retained in a reformed House of Lords. Deputy Prime Minister
Nick Clegg Sir Nicholas William Peter Clegg (born 7 January 1967) is a British media executive and former politician who has been VicePresident for Global Affairs and Communications at Meta Platforms since 2018, having previously served as Deputy Prime ...

Nick Clegg
introduced the
House of Lords Reform Bill 2012 The House of Lords Reform Bill 2012 was a proposed Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council ...
on 27 June 2012 which built on proposals published on 17 May 2011. However, this Bill was abandoned by the Government on 6 August 2012, following opposition from within the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
.


=House of Lords Reform Act 2014

= A private members bill to introduce some reforms was introduced by
Dan Byles Daniel Alan Byles (born 24 June 1974) is a British politician, ocean rowing, ocean rower, polar adventurer, mountaineer, and sailor. He was the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for North Warwickshire (UK Parliame ...
in 2013. The
House of Lords Reform Act 2014 The House of Lords Reform Act 2014 is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council). In most co ...
received in 2014. Under the new law: *All peers can retire or resign from the chamber (prior to this only hereditary peers could disclaim their peerages). *Peers can be disqualified for non-attendance. *Peers can be removed for receiving prison sentences of a year or more.


=House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015

= The House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015 authorised the House to expel or suspend members.


=Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015

= This act makes provision to preferentially admit archbishops and bishops of the Church of England who are women to the Lords Spiritual in the 10 years following its commencement. In 2015,
Rachel Treweek Rachel Treweek (''née'' Montgomery; born 4 February 1963) is a British Anglican bishop, Lords Spiritual, Lord Spiritual and former speech and language therapist. Since June 2015, she has been Bishop of Gloucester, the first female diocesan bishop ...
,
Bishop of Gloucester The Bishop of Gloucester is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Gloucester in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese covers the Gloucestershire, County of Gloucestershire and part of the Worcestershire, County of Worcestershire. T ...
, became the first woman to sit as a
Lord Spiritual The Lords Spiritual of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Ki ...
in the House of Lords. As of 2019, five women bishops sit as Lords Spiritual, four of them due to this act. In 2019, a seven-month enquiry by Naomi Ellenbogen QC found that one in five staff of the house had experienced bullying or harassment which they did not report for fear of reprisals. This was proceeded by several cases, including Liberal Democrat Anthony Lester, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, of lords who used their position to sexually harass or abuse women.


Proposed move

On 19 January 2020, it was announced that House of Lords may be moved from London to a city in
Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the most northern area of England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northwest of England ...

Northern England
, likely
York York is a cathedral city City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy of the United ...

York
, or
Birmingham Birmingham ( ) is a city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can ...

Birmingham
, in the
Midlands The Midlands is the central part of England and a cultural area that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Mercia, Kingdom of Mercia. The Midlands region is bordered by Northern England and Southern England. The Midlands were important in th ...

Midlands
, in an attempt to "reconnect" the area. It is unclear how the
Queen's Speech A speech from the throne (or throne speech) is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign, or a representative thereof, reads a prepared speech to members of the nation’s legislature when a legislative session, session is ...
would be conducted in the event of a move. The idea was received negatively by many peers.


Size

The size of the House of Lords has varied greatly throughout its history. The English House of Lords—then comprising 168 members—was joined at Westminster by 16 Scottish peers to represent the peerage of Scotland—a total of 184 nobles—in 1707's first
Parliament of Great Britain The Parliament of Great Britain was formed in May 1707 following the ratification of the Acts of Union 1707, Acts of Union by both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. The Acts ratified the treaty of Union which created a ...
. A further 28 Irish members to represent the peerage of Ireland were added in 1801 to the first
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
. From about 220 peers in the eighteenth century, the house saw continued expansion. From about 850 peers in 1951/52, the size further rose with the increasing numbers of
life peers In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the Peerages in the United Kingdom, peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are cre ...
after the Life Peerages Act 1958 and the inclusion of all Scottish peers and the first female peers in the
Peerage Act 1963 The Peerage Act 1963 (c. 48) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a Polity, ...
. It reached a record size of 1,330 in October 1999, immediately before the major Lords reform (
House of Lords Act 1999 The House of Lords Act 1999 (c. 34) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. The Act Lords Reform, reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. For ...
) reduced it to 669, mostly life peers, by March 2000. The chamber's membership again expanded in the following decades, increasing to above eight hundred active members in 2014 and prompting further reforms in the House of Lords Reform Act that year. In April 2011, a cross-party group of former leading politicians, including many senior members of the House of Lords, called on the Prime Minister
David Cameron David William Donald Cameron (born 9 October 1966) is a British politician, businessman, lobbyist In politics, lobbying, persuasion, or interest representation is the act of lawfully attempting to influence the actions, policies, or d ...
to stop creating new peers. He had created 117 new peers since becoming prime minister in May 2010, a faster rate of elevation than any PM in British history. The expansion occurred while his government had tried (in vain) to reduce the size of the House of Commons by 50 members, from 650 to 600. In August 2014, despite there being a seating capacity of only around 230 to 400 on the benches in the Lords chamber, the House had 774 active members (plus 54 who were not entitled to attend or vote, having been suspended or granted leave of absence). This made the House of Lords the largest parliamentary chamber in any democracy. In August 2014, former Speaker of the House of Commons
Betty Boothroyd Betty Boothroyd, Baroness Boothroyd , Hon. FSLL (born 8 October 1929) is a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency. In many cou ...
requested that "older peers should retire gracefully" to ease the overcrowding in the House of Lords. She also criticised successive prime ministers for filling the second chamber with "lobby fodder" in an attempt to help their policies become law. She made her remarks days before a new batch of peers were due to be created and several months after the passage of the
House of Lords Reform Act 2014 The House of Lords Reform Act 2014 is an Act of Parliament Acts of parliament, sometimes referred to as primary legislation, are texts of law passed by the Legislature, legislative body of a jurisdiction (often a parliament or council). In most co ...
, enabling peers to retire or resign their seats in the House, which had previously been impossible. In August 2015, following the creation of a further 45 peers in the
Dissolution Honours Crown Honours Lists are lists of honours conferred upon citizens of the Commonwealth realms. The awards are presented by or in the name of the reigning monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born ...
, the total number of eligible members of the Lords increased to 826. In a report entitled ''Does size matter?'' the BBC said: "Increasingly, yes. Critics argue the House of Lords is the second largest legislature after the Chinese National People's Congress and dwarfs upper houses in other bicameral democracies such as the United States (100 senators), France (348 senators), Australia (76 senators), Canada (105 appointed senators) and India (250 members). The Lords is also larger than the
Supreme People's Assembly The Supreme People's Assembly (SPA; ) is the Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. It consists of one deputy from each of the DPRK's 687 constituencies, Election ...

Supreme People's Assembly
of North Korea (687 members). ..Peers grumble that there is not enough room to accommodate all of their colleagues in the Chamber, where there are only about 400 seats, and say they are constantly jostling for space – particularly during high-profile sittings", but added, "On the other hand, defenders of the Lords say that it does a vital job scrutinising legislation, a lot of which has come its way from the Commons in recent years". In late 2016, a Lord Speaker's committee formed to examine the issue of overcrowding, with fears membership could swell to above 1,000, and in October 2017 the committee presented its findings. In December 2017, the Lords debated and broadly approved its report, which proposed a cap on membership at 600 peers, with a fifteen-year term limit for new peers and a "two-out, one-in" limit on new appointments. By October 2018, the Lord Speaker's committee commended the reduction in peers' numbers, noting that the rate of departures had been greater than expected, with the House of Commons's
Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee is a Select committee (United Kingdom), select committee appointed by the British House of Commons to examine the reports of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, and ...
approving the progress achieved without legislation. By April 2019, with the retirement of nearly one hundred peers since the passage of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014, the number of active peers had been reduced to a total of 782, of whom 665 were life peers. This total however, remains greater than the membership of 669 peers in March 2000, after implementation of the
House of Lords Act 1999 The House of Lords Act 1999 (c. 34) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. The Act Lords Reform, reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. For ...
removed the bulk of the hereditary peers from their seats; it is well above the proposed 600-member cap, and is still larger than the House of Commons's 650 members.


Functions


Legislative functions

Legislation, with the exception of money bills, may be introduced in either House. The House of Lords debates legislation, and has power to amend or reject bills. However, the power of the Lords to reject a bill passed by the House of Commons is severely restricted by the Parliament Acts. Under those Acts, certain types of bills may be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the House of Lords (i.e. the Commons can override the Lords' veto). The House of Lords cannot delay a money bill (a bill that, in the view of the Speaker of the House of Commons, solely concerns national taxation or public funds) for more than one month. Other public bills cannot be delayed by the House of Lords for more than two parliamentary sessions, or one calendar year. These provisions, however, only apply to public bills that originate in the House of Commons, and cannot have the effect of extending a parliamentary term beyond five years. A further restriction is a constitutional convention known as the Salisbury Convention, which means that the House of Lords does not oppose legislation promised in the Government's election manifesto. By a custom that prevailed even before the Parliament Acts, the House of Lords is further restrained insofar as financial bills are concerned. The House of Lords may neither originate a bill concerning taxation or Supply (supply of treasury or exchequer funds), nor amend a bill so as to insert a taxation or Supply-related provision. (The House of Commons, however, often waives its privileges and allows the Upper House to make amendments with financial implications.) Moreover, the Upper House may not amend any Supply Bill. The House of Lords formerly maintained the absolute power to reject a bill relating to revenue or Supply, but this power was curtailed by the Parliament Acts.


Relationship with the government

The House of Lords does not control the term of the prime minister or of the government. Only the lower house may force the prime minister to resign or call elections by passing a motion of no-confidence or by withdrawing supply. Thus, the House of Lords' oversight of the government is limited. Most Cabinet ministers are from the House of Commons rather than the House of Lords. In particular, all prime ministers since 1902 have been members of the lower house. (
Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government i ...
, who became prime minister in 1963 whilst still an earl, disclaimed his peerage and was elected to the Commons soon after his term began.) In recent history, it has been very rare for major cabinet positions (except Lord Chancellor and
Leader of the House of Lords The Leader of the House of Lords is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom The Cabinet of the United Kingdom is a group of the most senior ministers of the crown in the government of the United Kingdom. A committee of the Privy C ...
) to have been filled by peers. Exceptions include Peter Carington, 6th Lord Carrington, who was the
Secretary of State for Defence The Secretary of State for Defence, also referred to as the Defence Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty' ...
from 1970 to 1974,
Secretary of State for Energy A secretary, administrative professional, or personal assistant A personal assistant, also referred to as personal aide (PA) or personal secretary (PS), is a job title describing a person who assists a specific person with their daily busines ...
briefly for two months in early 1974 and
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs The secretary of state for foreign, Commonwealth and development affairs, commonly known as the foreign secretary, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Developm ...
between 1979 and 1982, Arthur Cockfield, Lord Cockfield, who served as
Secretary of State for Trade The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also referred to as the Business Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Department for Business, Energy and ...
and
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the C ...
, David Young, Lord Young of Graffham (
Minister without Portfolio A minister without portfolio is either a government minister A minister is a politician who heads a ministry (government department), ministry, making and implementing decisions on policies in conjunction with the other ministers. In some juris ...
, then
Secretary of State for EmploymentThe Secretary of State for Employment was a position in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom. In 1995 it was merged with Secretary of State for Education to make the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. In 2001 the employment functions wer ...
and then
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also referred to as the Business Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Department for Business, Energy and ...
and
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the C ...
from 1984 to 1989),
Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos Valerie Ann Amos, Baroness Amos, (born 13 March 1954), is a British Labour Party politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in g ...
, who served as
Secretary of State for International Development The Secretary of State for International Development, also referred to as the International Development Secretary, was a senior Minister of the Crown Minister of the Crown is a formal constitutional term used in Commonwealth realms to describ ...
, Andrew Adonis, Lord Adonis, who served as
Secretary of State for Transport The secretary of state for transport, also referred to as the transport secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Governmen ...
and
Peter Mandelson Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson (born 21 October 1953) is a British Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Anti ...

Peter Mandelson
, who served as
First Secretary of State First Secretary of State is an office sometimes held by a minister in the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty's Government, is the central government of the Unit ...
,
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, also referred to as the Business Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of the Department for Business, Energy and ...
and
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the C ...
. George Robertson, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen was briefly a peer whilst serving as
Secretary of State for Defence The Secretary of State for Defence, also referred to as the Defence Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty' ...
before resigning to take up the post of
Secretary General of NATO The secretary general of NATO is the chief civil servant of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Allia ...
. From 1999 to 2010 the
Attorney General for England and Wales Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. The Attorney General serves as the principal legal adviser to the Crown and the Government in England and Wales. ...
was a member of the House of Lords; the most recent was
Patricia Scotland Patricia Janet Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (born 19 August 1955), is a British-Dominican diplomat, barrister and politician, serving as the sixth Commonwealth Secretary-General, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations. She wa ...
. The House of Lords remains a source for junior ministers and members of government. Like the House of Commons, the Lords also has a Government Chief Whip as well as several Junior Whips. Where a government department is not represented by a minister in the Lords or one is not available, government whips will act as spokesmen for them.


Former judicial role

Historically, the House of Lords held several judicial functions. Most notably, until 2009 the House of Lords served as the
court of last resort The supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of ...
for most instances of UK law. Since 1 October 2009 this role is now held by the
Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The Supreme Court (: UKSC or the : SCOTUK) is the in the for all civil cases, as well as for criminal cases originating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affectin ...
. The Lords' judicial functions originated from the ancient role of the
Curia Regis ''Curia regis'' () is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...
as a body that addressed the petitions of the King's subjects. The functions were exercised not by the whole House, but by a committee of "Law Lords". The bulk of the House's judicial business was conducted by the twelve
Lords of Appeal in Ordinary Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, commonly known as Law Lords, were judges appointed under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 ( 39 & 40 Vict. c.59) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The ...
, who were specifically appointed for this purpose under the
Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 ( 39 & 40 Vict. c.59) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authori ...
. The judicial functions could also be exercised by Lords of Appeal (other members of the House who happened to have held high judicial office). No Lord of Appeal in Ordinary or Lord of Appeal could sit judicially beyond the age of seventy-five. The judicial business of the Lords was supervised by the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and their deputy, the Second Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. The jurisdiction of the House of Lords extended, in civil and in criminal cases, to appeals from the courts of England and Wales, and of Northern Ireland. From Scotland, appeals were possible only in civil cases; Scotland's
High Court of Justiciary The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court in Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of ...

High Court of Justiciary
is the highest court in criminal matters. The House of Lords was not the United Kingdom's only court of last resort; in some cases, the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories, some Commonwealth countries and a few UK bodies. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Cou ...
performs such a function. The jurisdiction of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom, however, is relatively restricted; it encompasses appeals from
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor