Membership and principal office holders

Who is the oldest sitting Member of the House of Lords?

The Rt Hon. the Lord Healey CH MBE (born 30/08/1917).

Previously, the oldest sitting Member of the House was The Lord Campbell of Alloway ERD QC (born 24/05/1917). He died on 30/06/2013.

Who is the longest serving Member of the House of Lords?

The Rt Hon the Lord Carrington, KG GCMG CH MC DL (took seat 09/10/1945, born 06/06/1919).

Who is the youngest Member of the House of Lords?

The youngest male Member is Lord Wei (born 19/01/1977).

The youngest female Member is Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (born 29/11/1975).

What is the average age of Members of the House of Lords?

The average age of Members is 70 (as at 1 October 2014).

Who was the first female life Peer?

Baroness Wootton of Abinger (created under the Life Peerages Act 1958, died 11/07/1988, Labour).

Who was the first female hereditary Peer to take her seat?

Baroness Strange of Knokin in 1963. (She died on 12/12/1974.)

Who was the first female Leader of the House of Lords?

The Rt Hon the Baroness Young (Conservative) Sept 1981 - May 1983. (She died on 06/09/2002.)

Who was the first female Chief Whip?

Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe (Labour) Nov 1973 - Nov 1982. (She died on 06/11/1997.)

Who was the first female Law Lord (Lord of Appeal in Ordinary)?

The Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond was made a life peer under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act in 2004.

How many female Members are there in the House of Lords?

There are 192 female Members of the House of Lords (as at 2 December 2014).

The percentage of female Members in each group are:

  • Conservative: 20% of the group
  • Liberal Democrat: 32% of the group
  • Labour: 31% of the group
  • Crossbench: 21% of the group 

Where can I find out about recent changes to membership of the House of Lords?

Who is the Leader of the House of Lords?

The Baroness Stowell of Beeston MBE (from July 2014)

Who is the Lord Speaker and what do they do?

The House of Lords elected Baroness D'Souza as its second Lord Speaker on 13 July 2011.

Politically impartial, the main responsibilities of the Lord Speaker include:

  • formal responsibility for security in the Lords area of the Parliamentary estate
  • speaking for the House on ceremonial occasions
  • acting as an ambassador for the work of the Lords both at home and abroad.

Lord Speakers can sit for two terms only, which last a maximum of five years each 

Who is the Clerk of the Parliaments and what do they do?

The Clerk of the Parliaments is David Beamish.

The Clerk of the Parliaments is appointed by the Crown as head of the permanent administration of the House of Lords and the chief procedural adviser to the House.

The Clerk is responsible for all aspects of the services provided by the administration for Members, the public and other interested parties.

Who is Black Rod and what do they do?

Black Rod is a senior officer of the House of Lords with administrative and ceremonial duties during the State Opening of Parliament.

The Clerk of the Parliaments, to whom Black Rod reports, is in overall charge of the administration of the House, which provides all other services for members.

Further information on principal office holders in the House of Lords is available from the About Parliament: Principal Officers and staff section.

What is Leave of Absence?

A Member of the House of Lords is expected to attend regularly but may obtain leave of absence.

Once granted, the Member is expected not to attend sittings of the House. If the Member wishes to attend before the leave period ends, he or she should give three month's notice.

Who do I contact if I want to nominate someone for membership of the House of Lords?

The Government established the House of Lords Appointments Commission in May 2000. The Commission has two main functions as follows.

  1. To make recommendations to the Queen for non-political Peers. 
  2. To vet for propriety all nominations for peerages, including those from political parties.

The Commission is an independent, non-statutory, non-departmental body. It is not part of the House of Lords.

Contact details:

The House of Lords Appointments Commission
35 Great Smith Street
London
SW1P 3BQ
Tel: 020 7276 2005
www.lordsappointments.gov.uk

What is the Salisbury Doctrine?

The Salisbury Doctrine, or 'Convention', emerged from the working arrangements reached during the Labour Government of 1945-51, when the fifth Marquess of Salisbury was the Leader of the Conservative Opposition in the Lords.

The Convention ensures that major Government Bills can get through the Lords when the Government of the day has no majority in the Lords.

In practice, it means that the Lords do not try to vote down at Second or Third Reading, a Government Bill mentioned in an election manifesto.

What is the Cranborne Money?

Under the previous agreement the largest Opposition party, the second largest Opposition party and the office of the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers were eligible to claim different amounts to cover expenses for the financial year.

The House of Lords agreed on 24 June 2010 to the limit the payment of Cranborne Money to the Opposition and the office of the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers from 12 May 2010.

More information on Cranborne Money: