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60 years of life peers

30 April 2018

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

The Life Peerages Act 1958 received Royal Assent 60 years ago on 30 April, paving the way for women to sit in the Lords and bringing diversity of experience and breadth of knowledge to its membership.

Since 1958, most members have been appointed for their lifetime, their titles are not passed on to their children. They come from different backgrounds and professions. Many remain active in their careers and are experts in their fields – the House draws on this professional experience in its examination of legislation and government actions and during its investigative committee work.

The biggest impact of the introduction of life peers is the increase in women members: there are currently more than 200.

Women members: significant firsts

  • Baroness Wootton of Abinger: first woman life peer to receive Letters Patent (formal appointment to the Lords), 8 August 1958
  • Baroness Swanborough: first woman life peer to take her seat, 21 October 1958
  • Baroness Elliot: first woman life peer to speak in the Lords, 4 November 1958
  • Baroness Phillips: first woman government whip, 1965-1970
  • Baroness Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe: first woman government chief whip, 1974-1979
  • Baroness Young: first woman Leader of the House of Lords, 1981-1983
  • Baroness Hayman: first Lord Speaker, 2006-2011.

Further information