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Different types of Lords

The Lords currently has around 750 Members, and there are four different types: life Peers, Law Lords, bishops and elected hereditary Peers. Unlike MPs, the public do not elect the Lords. The majority are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister or of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.

Life Peers

Appointed for their lifetime only, these Lords' titles are not passed on to their children. The Queen formally appoints life Peers on the advice and recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Law Lords (or Lords of Appeal in Ordinary)

The Law Lords are salaried, full-time judges who carry out the judicial work of the House of Lords.

The Queen appoints Law Lords on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, who receives advice from the Lord Chancellor. (This method of appointment will change when the relevant provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 come into force and selection is made by a selection commission whose choice is forwarded to the Lord Chancellor.)

Candidates usually come from serving judges of the Court of Appeal in England and Wales, the Court of Session in Scotland, and the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland.

Archbishops and bishops

A limited number of 26 Church of England archbishops and bishops sit in the House, passing their membership on to the next most senior bishop when they retire. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York traditionally get life peerages on retirement.

Elected hereditary Peers

The right of hereditary Peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords was ended in 1999 by the House of Lords Act but 92 Members were elected internally to remain until the next stage of the Lords reform process.

More on this subject
Law Lords
Membership of the House of LordsPDF file
House of Lords Reform since 1999PDF file
Who does what in the Lords

Also in this section
What MPs do
How MPs are elected
Contacting your MP
Pay and allowances for MPs
What Lords do
Contacting a Lord
Members of the Lords: allowances
How do you become a Member of the House of Lords?
Political parties in Parliament
The party system

Related information

House of Lords Appointments Commission

This commission is now the main method of appointing new Lords.

Set up in May 2000, this independent, public body, separate from the House of Lords itself, has two duties:

  • Recommending non-political Lords appointments to the Queen
  • Checking the suitability of all nominations to the House, including those made by political parties.

House of Lords Appointments Commission

How do you become a Lord?

Since the abolition of the rights of hereditary peers and the introduction of the Appointments Commission, ways of appointing Lords have increased.


Peer: A Member of the House of Lords.

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Updated 09/11/2007 17:48