The Lords Temporal are secular members of the House of Lords
, the upper house of the
The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of Westminster, London. It alone possesses legislative supremac ...
. These can be either
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are created under the Life Peerages ...
s or hereditary peer
s, although the hereditary right to sit in the House of Lords was abolished for all but ninety-two peers during the 1999 reform of the House of Lords
. The term is used to differentiate these members from the
The Lords Spiritual are the bishops of the Church of England who serve in the House of Lords of the United Kingdom. 26 out of the 42 diocesan bishops and archbishops of the Church of England serve as Lords Spiritual (not counting retired archb ...
, who sit in the House as a consequence of being
A bishop is an ordained clergy member who is entrusted with a position of authority and oversight in a religious institution.
In Christianity, bishops are normally responsible for the governance of dioceses. The role or office of bishop is ...
s in the
Church of England
The Church of England (C of E) is the established Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Brit ...
Membership in the Lords Temporal was once an entitlement of all hereditary peers, other than those in the
peerage of Ireland
The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as Lord or King of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It is one of the five divis ...
. Under the
House of Lords Act 1999
The House of Lords Act 1999 (c. 34) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the House of Lords, one of the chambers of Parliament. The Act was given Royal Assent on 11 November 1999. For centuries, the House of Lords ...
, the right to membership was restricted to 92 hereditary peers
. Since 2020, none of them are female; most hereditary peerages can be inherited only by men.
Further reform of the House of Lords
is a perennially-discussed issue in British politics
. However, no additional legislation on this issue has passed the
House of Commons
The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliamen ...
since 1999. The Wakeham Commission
, which debated the issue of lords' reform under then Prime Minister
Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair (born 6 May 1953) is a British former politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007. He previously served as Leader of th ...
, proposed making some of the Lords Temporal elected positions.
[Executive Summary of the Wakeham Report](_blank)
/ref> This plan, which was widely criticized, failed to advance in the House of Commons. Additional proposals were made under the coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron to reduce the size of the House of Lords to 450, directly elect at least some of the Lords Temporal, and allow members of the House of Commons to run for election as Lords Temporal. None of these proposals passed.
Composition of the Lords Temporal
The Lords Temporal consist of a small number of
The hereditary peers form part of the peerage in the United Kingdom. As of September 2022, there are 807 hereditary peers: 29 dukes (including five royal dukes), 34 marquesses, 190 earls, 111 viscounts, and 443 barons (disregarding subsidi ... and a much larger contingent of life peers
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are created under the Life Peerages A ....
The Lords Temporal has historically included several hundred hereditary peers (English peers as well as Scottish Lords of Parliament). Such hereditary offices can be created by the Crown and in modern times are usually created only under the advice of the Prime Minister.
Holders of Scottish and Irish peerages were not always permitted to sit in the Lords. When Scotland united with England to form
Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the List of European islands by area, largest European island and the List of ... in 1707, it was provided that the Scottish hereditary peers would only be able to elect 16 representative peer
In the United Kingdom, representative peers were those peers elected by the members of the Peerage of Scotland and the Peerage of Ireland to sit in the British House of Lords. Until 1999, all members of the Peerage of England held the right to ...s to sit in the House of Lords; the term of a representative was to extend until the next general election. A similar provision was enacted when Ireland merged with Great Britain in 1801 to form the United Kingdom; the Irish peers were allowed to elect 28 representatives, who were to retain office for life. Elections for Irish representatives ended in 1922, when most of Ireland became an independent state; elections for Scottish representatives ended with the passage of the Peerage Act 1963
The Peerage Act 1963 (c. 48) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that permits women peeresses and all Scottish hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords and allows newly inherited hereditary peerages to be disclaimed.
Backgro ..., under which all Scottish peers obtained seats in the Upper House.
After the 1999 reform, only 92 hereditary peers remain as Lords Temporal. Two are the Earl Marshal
Earl marshal (alternatively marschal or marischal) is a hereditary royal officeholder and chivalric title under the sovereign of the United Kingdom used in England (then, following the Act of Union 1800, in the United Kingdom). He is the eigh ... and the Lord Great Chamberlain
The Lord Great Chamberlain of England is the sixth of the Great Officers of State, ranking beneath the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal and above the Lord High Constable. The Lord Great Chamberlain has charge over the Palace of Westminster (thou .... Of the remaining ninety peers sitting in the Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage, 15 are elected by the whole House and 75 are chosen by fellow hereditary peers in the House of Lords, grouped by party. [
The largest group of Lords Temporal, and indeed of the whole House, are life peers. As of June 2019 there are 661 life peers.
Life peerages rank only as barons or baronesses, and are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958. Like all other peers, life peers are created by the Crown, who acts on the advice of the Prime Minister or the House of Lords Appointments Commission. By convention, however, the Prime Minister allows leaders of other parties to nominate some life peers, to maintain political equilibrium.
In 2000, the government announced it would set up an Independent Appointments Commission, under Lord Stevenson of Coddenham
Henry Dennistoun "Dennis" Stevenson, Baron Stevenson of Coddenham, (born 19 July 1945) is a British businessman and former chairman of HBOS. He sits on the crossbenches in the House of Lords.
Early life and education
Stevenson was born on 19 ..., to select fifteen so-called " people's peer
In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are created under the Life Peerages ...s" for life peerages.
Until the establishment of the
A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions of ... in 2009, a subset of the Lords Temporal – known as the Law Lords – acted as the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom judicial system. These lords became the first justices of the UK Supreme Court.
House of Lords
Constitution of the United Kingdom