Membership and principal office holders
Who is the oldest sitting Member of the House of Lords?
The oldest male Member is The Rt Hon. the Lord Mackay of Clashfern KT (born 1927).
- Member's biography: Lord Mackay of Clashfern
The oldest female Member is the Baroness Gardner of Parkes (born 1927).
- Member's biography: Baroness Gardner of Parkes
Who is the longest serving Member of the House of Lords?
The longest serving male Member is the Rt Hon. the Lord Trefgarne (took seat 29/06/1962, born 1941).
- Member's biography: Lord Trefgarne
The longest serving female Member is the Baroness Masham of Ilton DL (took seat 12/02/1970, born 1935).
- Member's biography: Baroness Masham of Ilton
Who is the youngest Member of the House of Lords?
The youngest female Member is Baroness Penn (born 1985).
- Member's biography: Baroness Penn
The youngest male Member is Lord Harlech (born 1986).
- Member's biography: Lord Harlech
What is the average age of Members of the House of Lords?
The average age of Members is 70 (as at 12 February 2019).
Who was the first female life Peer?
Baroness Wootton of Abinger (created under the Life Peerages Act 1958, Labour).
Who was the first female hereditary Peer to take her seat?
Baroness Strange of Knokin in 1963.
Who was the first female Leader of the House of Lords?
The Rt Hon the Baroness Young (Conservative) Sept 1981 - May 1983.
Who was the first female Chief Whip?
Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe (Labour) Nov 1973 - Nov 1982.
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.
- Member's biography: Baroness Hale of Richmond
How many female Members are there in the House of Lords?
There are 223 current female Members of the House of Lords (as at 31 December 2020).
The percentage of female Members in each group are:
- Conservative - 26%
- Liberal Democrat - 37%
- Labour - 34%
- Crossbench - 25%
- Bishops - 25%
Where can I find out about recent changes to membership of the House of Lords?
Who is the Leader of the House of Lords?
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (from July 2016)
Who is the Lord Speaker and what do they do?
The House of Lords elected Lord McFall of Alcluith as its fourth Lord Speaker in April 2021.
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 Simon Burton.
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.
- To make recommendations to the Queen for non-political Peers.
- 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.
House of Lords Appointments Commission
G/8, Ground Floor
1 Horse Guards Road
Tel: 020 7271 0848
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:
- Members of the Lords: allowances – Information on allowances including Cranborne money.