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1. The House and its membership

Composition of the House
Disqualification from membership
Membership of the House under SO 93
Writ of summons
Introduction and sitting first in Parliament
Oath of allegiance and affirmation
Retirement age
Retirement or resignation
Cessation of membership through non-attendance
Imprisonment for a serious offence
Expulsion and suspension
Leave of absence
Access to the facilities of the House
Tax status
Notification of death of member
The Lord Speaker
Role of the Senior Deputy Speaker
Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chairmen
Seating in the Chamber
Steps of the Throne
Map of the House of Lords Chamber
Footnotes

Composition of the House

1.1 The following are members of the House of Lords: 

  • Lords Spiritual:

    – the Archbishops of Canterbury and York;

    – the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester; and

    – twenty-one other diocesan bishops of the Church of England according to seniority of appointment to diocesan sees. Until 2025, when a vacancy arises, a bishop who is a woman takes priority over a more senior bishop who is a man.(1)

  • Lords Temporal:

    – Lords created for life under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 (as amended) to serve as Lords of Appeal in Ordinary;(2)

    – life peers created under the Life Peerages Act 1958;

    – 90 hereditary peers elected under SO 9(3) pursuant to the House of Lords Act 1999; 

    – the Earl Marshal;(4) and

    – the Lord Great Chamberlain.(5)

Disqualification from membership

1.2 The following are disqualified from membership of the House of Lords:

  • those under the age of twenty-one;(6)
  • aliens

    By the Act of Settlement 1701(7) “no person born out of the Kingdoms of England, Scotland or Ireland, or the Dominions thereunto belonging … (except such as are born of English parents)” may be a member of the House of Lords. By virtue of a modification contained in the British Nationality Act 1981,(8) this provision applies only to persons who are not Commonwealth citizens or citizens of the Republic of Ireland. Under the 1981 Act,(9) “Commonwealth citizen” means a British citizen, a British Overseas Territories citizen, a British subject under that Act, or a citizen of an independent Commonwealth country;

  • those convicted of treason

    The Forfeiture Act 1870 provides that anyone convicted of treason shall be disqualified from sitting or voting as a member of the House of Lords until they have either suffered their term of imprisonment or received a pardon;

  • bankrupts

    Under the Insolvency Act 1986,(10) a member of the House (a) who, in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, is subject to a bankruptcy restrictions order (including an interim order) or a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking; (b) who, in England and Wales, is subject to a debt relief restrictions order (including an interim order) or a debt relief restrictions undertaking; or (c) in Scotland, whose estate is sequestered, is disqualified from sitting and voting in the House of Lords or in any committee of the House. A writ is not issued to any person who would otherwise be entitled to one while they are so disqualified. The court or, in the case of a bankruptcy restrictions undertaking or debt relief restrictions undertaking, the Government, notifies the restriction or sequestration to the Lord Speaker and it is recorded in the Journals;

  • holders of disqualifying judicial office

    Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005,(11) a member of the House who holds a disqualifying judicial office(12) is disqualified from sitting and voting in the House of Lords or in any committee of the House or joint committee. Such members are not disqualified from receiving a writ of summons;

  • those who have resigned or left the House because of non-attendance or imprisonment

    Under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014, a member who has resigned from the House or who has ceased to be a member by virtue of not attending during a session lasting six months or more, or a member who is sentenced to imprisonment indefinitely or for more than one year, is disqualified from attending the proceedings of the House (including the proceedings of a committee or joint committee). Such persons do not receive a writ of summons and may not attend in pursuance of a writ already received (see paragraph 1.27); and

  • those who have been expelled from the House because of misconduct

    Under the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015, the House may pass a resolution to expel a member for misconduct. Standing Order 11 provides that a motion to expel a member must follow a recommendation from the Conduct Committee after the member has been found in breach of the Code of Conduct. A person expelled in accordance with the 2015 Act is no longer entitled to receive a writ of summons and may not attend in pursuance of a writ already received.

Membership of the House under SO 9

1.3 Section 1 of the House of Lords Act 1999 provides that “No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage”.(13) However, section 2 of the Act provides that 90 hereditary peers, and also the holders of the offices of Earl Marshal and Lord Great Chamberlain, shall be excepted from this general exclusion and shall remain as members for their lifetime or until a subsequent Act otherwise provides.

1.4 In accordance with SO 9, 75 of the 90 excepted hereditary peers were elected by the hereditary peers in their political party or Crossbench grouping.(14) The remaining 15 were elected by the whole House to act as Deputy Chairmen and other office-holders.(15)

1.5 Under SO 9, any vacancy due to the death, retirement or exclusion of one of the 90 is filled by holding a by-election. By-elections are conducted in accordance with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments and take place within three months of a vacancy occurring. If the vacancy is among the 75, only the excepted hereditary peers (including those elected among the 15) in the relevant party or Crossbench grouping are entitled to vote. If the vacancy is among the 15, the whole House is entitled to vote.

1.6 The Clerk of the Parliaments maintains a register of hereditary peers who wish to stand in any by-election under SO 9. Any hereditary peer other than a peer of Ireland is entitled to be included in the register. Under SO 10, any hereditary peer not previously in receipt of a writ of summons who wishes to be included in the register petitions the House and any such petition is referred to the Lord Chancellor to consider and report upon whether such peer has established the right to be included in the register.

Writ of summons

1.7 Members of the House may not take their seat until they have obtained a writ of summons. Writs of summons are issued by direction of the Lord Chancellor from the office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

1.8 New writs are issued before the meeting of each Parliament to all Lords Spiritual and Temporal who have established their right to them and who are not statutorily disqualified from receiving them.

1.9 An archbishop, on appointment or translation to another see, and a bishop who has become entitled to sit or who already has a seat and is translated to another see, applies for a writ to the Lord Chancellor with evidence to support their claim.

1.10 Writs, called writs of assistance or writs of attendance, are also sent to the following, unless they are members of the House: the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Family Division, the Chancellor of the High Court, Justices of the Supreme Court, the Lords Justices of Appeal and the Justices of the High Court.(16) The attendance of such judges is normally now confined to the State Opening of Parliament.

Introduction and sitting first in Parliament

1.11 The following are ceremonially introduced before taking their seats in the House:

  • newly created life peers;
  • archbishops, on appointment or on translation; and
  • bishops, on first receiving a writ of summons or, if already a member of the House, on translation to another see.

1.12 When a writ has been issued to any such person, the Lord Speaker fixes a day for the introduction. The following rules apply:

  • introductions may not take place on the first day of a new Parliament;(17)
  • the House has agreed that, save in exceptional circumstances, no more than two new members should be introduced on any one day.(18) This rule does not apply to introductions on swearing-in days at the beginning of a new Parliament;
  • introductions normally take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays;(19)
  • new members of the House are normally supported on introduction by two other members of the House. Archbishops and bishops may only be supported on introduction by other archbishops or bishops. Archbishops and bishops may not act as a supporter at the introduction of a peer;(20) and
  • no member of the House may act as supporter without having first taken the oath.

1.13 Appendix J describes the ceremony of introduction.

1.14 Hereditary peers elected under SO 9 require no introduction and, on receiving a writ, can take their seat and the oath of allegiance without any ceremony.

1.15 New members of the House may not use the facilities of the House, other than the right to sit on the steps of the Throne, before taking their seat for the first time.(21) However, they may use the dining facilities on the day of introduction.

Oath of allegiance and affirmation

1.16 All members must take the oath of allegiance or make a solemn affirmation before they can participate in parliamentary proceedings, including sitting and voting in the House, tabling business, or participating in committee meetings:

  • on introduction;
  • in every new Parliament;(22) and
  • after a demise of the Crown.(23)

1.17 The oath is usually taken after prayers, but may be taken at the end of business before the adjournment.(24) On the first day of debate on the King’s Speech in a new Parliament, the oath or affirmation is taken at the end of business, after a brief adjournment.(25)

1.18 The form of the oath, prescribed by section 2 of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868 and section 1 of the Oaths Act 1978, is:

“I (giving name and title) do swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, His heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

1.19 Under the Oaths Act 1978, members of the House who object to being sworn may affirm:

“I (giving name and title) do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to His Majesty King Charles, His heirs and successors, according to law.”

1.20 The oath or affirmation must be taken in English but may be repeated in Welsh(26) or in Gaelic.(27)

1.21 Before taking the oath or making an affirmation members go to the Table, bringing their writ of summons (except on a demise of the Crown, when new writs are not issued). If they are taking the oath, they then recite aloud the words of the oath, reading them from a card kept at the Table, and holding a New Testament in the right hand. The oath may also be taken in the Scottish form with uplifted hand. In the case of members of the House who are of the Jewish faith, the Old Testament is used; in the case of other faiths, the appropriate sacred text is used. If they are making an affirmation, they recite aloud the words of the affirmation.

1.22 In cases of disability or infirmity, the oath or affirmation may be taken seated.

1.23 After taking the oath or making an affirmation, members must sign the Test Roll and an undertaking to abide by the House of Lords Code of Conduct.(28) Finally, they go to the Woolsack, shake hands with the Lord Speaker and leave the Chamber.

1.24 Members who sit by virtue of one peerage but are known by another title take the oath or make an affirmation and sign the Roll using the title by virtue of which they sit.

1.25 Any member of the House who sits or votes without having either taken the oath or made an affirmation is subject to a penalty of £500.(29) However, a member may attend prayers or an introduction before taking the oath or making an affirmation. On a swearing-in day (see paragraph 2.1), it is convenient for members to occupy their seats while they are waiting to take the oath. Members who attend the House without taking the oath are not recorded in the attendance lists in the Journals, and votes cast by such members in divisions are invalid.(30) A member of the House may not attend the State Opening of Parliament without having taken the oath.(31)

Retirement age

1.26 There is no retirement age for members of the House of Lords, except that bishops retire from their sees on reaching the age of seventy and cease to be members of the House.(32)

Retirement or resignation

1.27 Members of the House who are peers may retire or otherwise resign by giving written notice to the Clerk of the Parliaments.(33) The notice must specify a date from which the resignation takes effect and be signed by the peer and a witness. A resignation may not be rescinded.

1.28 When the Clerk of the Parliaments receives notice of a resignation they inform the House by an entry in the Minutes of Proceedings. On the day the resignation takes effect, the Lord Speaker informs the House that the peer has ceased to be a member.(34)

Cessation of membership through non-attendance

1.29 A member of the House who is a peer and does not attend the House during a session of six months or longer ceases to be a member at the beginning of the following session.(35)

1.30 The above provision does not apply to peers who are disqualified from sitting or voting, or suspended from the service of the House, for the whole of the session. It does not apply to members on leave of absence in respect of any part of the session. The House may resolve that a peer should not cease to be a member by virtue of non-attendance by reason of special circumstances.

1.31 The Lord Speaker certifies when a member has not attended during a session. The Lord Speaker informs the House that the peer has ceased to be a member.(36)

Imprisonment for a serious offence

1.32 A member who is convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned or detained indefinitely or for more than one year ceases to be a member of the House.(37)

1.33 The above provision applies whether or not the offence was committed while the person was a member of the House. It applies to convictions outside the United Kingdom only if the House resolves that it should.

1.34 The Lord Speaker certifies when a member has been convicted and sentenced to a relevant term of imprisonment. The Lord Speaker informs the House that the member has ceased to be a member.(38)

1.35 The Lord Speaker certifies when a member has had a conviction quashed or had the sentence varied or reduced so that it is no longer imprisonment or detention indefinitely or for more than one year; in such circumstances the original certificate that the member has been convicted is treated as having never had effect.

Expulsion and suspension

1.36 A motion to expel or suspend a member must follow a recommendation from the Conduct Committee that the member be expelled or suspended (as the case may be) because the member has breached the Code of Conduct. Such a recommendation may be made by the Conduct Committee only if the Commissioner for Standards has found the member in breach of the Code of Conduct or the member is in breach of the Code in accordance with paragraph 24 or 25 of the Code. A motion to suspend a member must specify the period for which the suspension is to last (which may be until the occurrence of a specified event). Notice must be given of a motion to expel or suspend a member. Expulsion or suspension takes effect as soon as the House has agreed the motion.(39)

Leave of absence

1.37 Members of the House are to attend the sittings of the House. If they cannot attend, because of temporary circumstance, they should obtain leave of absence.(40) At any time during a session, a member of the House may obtain leave of absence for the rest of the session by applying in writing to the Clerk of the Parliaments, specifying both a reason for asking to take leave of absence and a date by which they expect to return to the House.

1.38 A member who has no reasonable expectation of returning as an active member at some point in the future should retire under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014. The House will not grant leave of absence to a member whose application has not stated that they have a reasonable expectation that they will return as an active member at some point.(41)

1.39 Before the beginning of every session, the Clerk of the Parliaments writes to those members who were on leave of absence at the end of the preceding session to ask whether they wish to renew that leave of absence for the new session. The Clerk of the Parliaments draws the attention of such members to section 2 of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.

1.40 The House grants leave of absence to those who apply (subject to the conditions in paragraph 1.38). The House may however refuse or end leave of absence on the application of the Commissioner for Standards or the Conduct Committee, where this is necessary either to enable the Commissioner to conduct an investigation under the Code of Conduct, or to enable the Conduct Committee to impose or recommend the imposition of a sanction on a member.(42)

1.41 Directions relating to those on leave of absence are as follows:

(a) members of the House who have been granted leave of absence should not attend sittings of the House or of any committee of the House until their leave has expired or been terminated, except to take the oath of allegiance;

(b) members of the House on leave of absence who wish to attend during the period for which leave was granted should give notice in writing to the Clerk of the Parliaments at least three months before the day on which they wish to attend; and their leave is terminated three months from the date of this notice, or sooner if the House so directs;

(c) a member of the House on leave of absence may not act as a supporter in the ceremony of introduction;(43) and

(d) a member of the House on leave of absence may not vote in the election of the Lord Speaker or in by-elections for hereditary peers.

1.42 In applying the provisions on leave of absence the Clerk of the Parliaments may seek the advice of the Leave of Absence Sub-Committee of the Procedure and Privileges Committee (see paragraph 11.92).

Access to the facilities of the House

1.43 Former members of the House who have retired, and members who are on leave of absence or who are disqualified from participation in the proceedings of the House as judges,(44) enjoy access to the following facilities:

(a) they may use the Library (but not its research facilities), the Peers’ Guest Room, the Peers’ Dining Room with up to five guests and the Barry Room with up to six guests; and

(b) they may sit on the steps of the Throne during a sitting of the House.

1.44 The access privileges in paragraph 1.43 are not afforded to members who lose their membership as a result of non-attendance or a sentence of imprisonment, nor to any member expelled under the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015.

1.45 The House of Lords Commission may agree, on a case-by-case basis, to withdraw the access privileges of a member following their retirement or resignation from the House.(45) For members who retire or resign before a report recommending their suspension or expulsion from the House is agreed, the withdrawal of their access privileges is automatic.(46)

1.46 Rights of access enjoyed by members are cancelled for those who are suspended from the service of the House for the duration of the suspension. Members who are suspended may not enter the parliamentary estate, including as guests of other members.(47) The House may also withdraw a member’s access to certain facilities or services for a specified period as a sanction, short of full suspension, for breaching the Code of Conduct.(48)

Tax status

1.47 All members of the House who are entitled to receive writs of summons to attend the House are treated as resident and domiciled in the United Kingdom for the purposes of certain taxes.(49)

Notification of death of member

1.48 The Lord Speaker informs the House of the death of a member of the House.(50) The Lord Speaker’s announcement takes a standard form and is distinct from tributes, which are a matter for the Leader of the House and the usual channels. It is not debatable.

The Lord Speaker(51)

Election of the Lord Speaker

1.49 The House resolved on 12 July 2005 to “elect its own presiding officer”.(52) The process of election is governed by Standing Order 18. A new election is to be held in the fifth calendar year after the previous election, on a day no later than 15 July in that year, or within three months of the Lord Speaker dying, giving written notice of their resignation to the Leader of the House, or being deemed to have resigned (see paragraph 1.50), if sooner.(53)

1.50 The result of the election is subject to the approval of the King. If the House passes a motion for an Address to His Majesty seeking the Lord Speaker’s removal from office, the Lord Speaker shall be deemed to have resigned with effect from the date on which the motion is passed.

1.51 All members of the House who have taken the oath and are not disqualified, suspended or on leave of absence are entitled to stand and vote.(54) However, a member who has been successful in two previous elections is not entitled to stand.

1.52 The election is conducted in accordance with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments. The Alternative Vote system is used,(55) according to which candidates are numbered in order of preference, and the first-preference votes for the least successful candidates are successively reallocated until one candidate has at least half the total number of valid votes.

Role of the Lord Speaker

1.53 The primary role of the Lord Speaker is to preside over proceedings in the Chamber, including Committees of the whole House.(56) They call on the business on the order paper, private notice questions (PNQs), urgent question (UQ) repeats and oral statements. They take the oath first at the opening of a new Parliament; their role in the ceremonies accompanying oath-taking, the State Opening of Parliament, and Royal Commissions, are described in the appendices.(57) The Lord Speaker notifies the House of all necessary absences of more than one full sitting day. He or she seeks the leave of the House when such absences relate to the public duties of the Lord Speaker.

1.54 The Lord Speaker has no power to act in the House without the consent of the House. They observe the same formalities as any other member of the House, addressing the House as a whole, and not an individual member, and not intervening when a member is on their feet save to call on the next business as necessary. The Speaker’s function is to assist, and not to rule. The House does not recognise points of order.

1.55 Any advice or assistance given by the Lord Speaker is subject to the view of the House as a whole.(58) The Lord Speaker has specific responsibilities with regard to private notice questions and the application of the sub judice rule (see paragraphs 6.37 and 4.69).

1.56 Outside the Chamber, the Lord Speaker chairs the House of Lords Commission, which oversees the House of Lords Administration (see paragraph 11.77). They are a member of the Procedure and Privileges Committee; have formal responsibility for the security of the Lords part of the parliamentary estate; are one of the three ‘keyholders’ of Westminster Hall; and have a wide role representing the House at home and overseas.(59)

1.57 The Lord Speaker may, after consultation with the Government, recall the House whenever it stands adjourned.(60)

1.58 The Lord Speaker is a salaried office-holder, and is required to lay aside outside financial interests falling into specific categories, including remunerated directorships and other employment.(61) A candidate for office may however ask the Conduct Committee for a derogation from these rules in exceptional circumstances to enable them to retain an interest or interests in one or more of these categories.(62) The Lord Speaker is also expected to lay aside any party or group affiliation on appointment, and to refrain from political activity, including voting in the House.(63)

Role of the Senior Deputy Speaker

1.59 At the beginning of every session, and whenever a vacancy occurs, a member is appointed by the House to fill the salaried office of Chairman of Committees.(64) The post-holder is normally referred to as the Senior Deputy Speaker.(65) As a salaried office-holder, they are required to lay aside outside financial interests falling into specific categories, including remunerated directorships and other employment.(66) A candidate for office may however ask the Conduct Committee for a derogation from these rules in exceptional circumstances to enable them to retain an interest or interests in one or more of these categories.(67) They are also expected to lay aside any party or group affiliation on appointment and for the duration of their time in office.

1.60 They are Chair ex officio of all committees unless the House otherwise directs. In practice, this means that they chair the following domestic committees:

(a) Liaison Committee;

(b) Procedure and Privileges Committee; and

(c) Committee of Selection.

1.61 The Senior Deputy Speaker is spokesperson for the Commission and speaks in the House on matters relating to the internal administration of the House and the work of domestic committees. Questions on matters relating to internal administration are addressed to the Senior Deputy Speaker, who may delegate responsibility for answering questions falling within the remits of the Conduct, Finance and Services Committees to the relevant Chair.(68)

1.62 The Senior Deputy Speaker exercises general supervision and control over private bills and hybrid instruments. Their duties in this respect are described in more detail in chapter 9.

1.63 The Senior Deputy Speaker is ex officio the first of the Deputy Speakers appointed by Commission (see paragraph 1.64). They are empowered, in the absence of the Lord Speaker, to recall the House during a period of adjournment.(69)

Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chairmen

1.64 Certain members of the House are appointed by the Crown by Commission under the Great Seal to act as Deputy Speakers of the House of Lords in the absence of the Lord Speaker.(70) In addition, at the beginning of every session the House on motion appoints a number of members, proposed by the Committee of Selection, to serve as Deputy Chairmen of Committees for the remainder of that session.(71) Deputy Chairmen exercise all the functions of Deputy Speakers, and it is the practice that they are appointed Deputy Speakers at a convenient opportunity after their appointment as Deputy Chairmen.

1.65 In practice the duties of Deputy Chairmen and Deputy Speakers are indistinguishable. In the absence of the Lord Speaker or Senior Deputy Speaker, one of the panel of Deputy Chairmen officiates in their place. If no Deputy Chairman is present, the House appoints some other member, on motion, to perform their duties on that occasion.

1.66 Deputy Chairmen or Deputy Speakers may not recall the House under SO 16.

Seating in the Chamber

1.67 The side of the House on the Sovereign’s right hand when seated on the Throne is called the spiritual side, and that on the left the temporal side.

1.68 By convention the Government and their supporters occupy the benches on the spiritual side, with the exception of the first two benches nearest to the Throne, which are taken by the Bishops. Lords Spiritual must speak from the Bishops’ benches. Only the two archbishops and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester may speak from the front one of these benches, and they also have priority in relation to seating on this bench. Lords Temporal may sit on the Bishops’ benches, when space allows, but may not speak from them.

1.69 The benches on the temporal side are, by convention, occupied by the Opposition party or parties. The diagram at the end of chapter 1 shows the usual seating arrangements.

1.70 The crossbenches are for those who are not members of any of the main political parties in the House.(72) Crossbench members also sit on the benches nearest the Bar on the spiritual side.(73)

1.71 On the spiritual side of the Chamber, the front bench closest to the Bar is customarily occupied by Privy Counsellors. On the temporal side, Privy Counsellors tend to sit on the front bench closest to the Throne.

1.72 Additional seating for members of any grouping is available below the Bar on the temporal side. Members may not speak from these seats.

Steps of the Throne

1.73 The following may sit on the steps of the Throne:

  • members of the House of Lords in receipt of a writ of summons, including those who have not taken their seat or the oath and those who are on leave of absence;
  • members of the House of Lords who are disqualified from sitting or voting in the House as holders of disqualifying judicial office;(74)
  • hereditary peers who were formerly members of the House and who were excluded from the House by the House of Lords Act 1999;(75)
  • the eldest child (which includes an adopted child)(76) of a member of the House (or the eldest son where the right was exercised before 27 March 2000);(77)
  • peers of Ireland;
  • diocesan bishops of the Church of England who do not yet have seats in the House of Lords;
  • retired bishops who have had seats in the House of Lords;
  • former members who have retired or resigned from the House under the terms of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014;(78)
  • Privy Counsellors;(79)
  • Clerk of the Crown in Chancery;
  • the Gentleman or Lady Usher of the Black Rod(80) and their Deputy; and
  • the Dean of Westminster.

Map of the House of Lords Chamber

1. Throne
2. Cloth of Estate
3. Chairs of State
4. Steps of the Throne
5. Parliamentary officials’ box
6. Officials’ box
7. Woolsack
8. Judges’ Woolsacks
9. Spiritual side of the House
10. Temporal side of the House
11. Bishops’ benches
12. Table of the House
13. Clerks at the Table
14. Senior Deputy Speaker’s chair at the Table
15. Accessible space
16. Crossbenches
17. Government front bench
18. Opposition front bench
19. Bar of the House
20. Black Rod’s box
21. Seats for members’ spouses and partners
22. Hansard reporters
23. Overflow seating for members
24. Brass Gates

Footnotes

1 Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015, s. 1.

2 The Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 was repealed by Schedule 7 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, but Lords previously created under the Act remain members of the House.

3 SO followed by a number refers to the Standing Orders of the House of Lords Relating to Public Business. PBSO followed by a number refers to the Standing Orders of the House of Lords Relating to Private Business.

4 House of Lords Act 1999, s. 2(2).

5 House of Lords Act 1999, s. 2(2).

6 SO 2.

7 s. 3.

8 Schedule 7. See also s. 47 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

9 s. 37.

10 s. 426A and s. 427 as amended by the Enterprise Act 2002, the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2008 and the Insolvency Act 1986 (Disqualification from Parliament) Order 2012.

11 s. 137.

12 Defined in the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975, as amended, and the Northern Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975, as amended.

13 Certain members of the House who sat formerly by virtue of a hereditary peerage now sit by virtue of a life peerage. Under SO 7 they use their higher title.

14 Under SO 9(2)(i), two peers were elected by the Labour hereditary peers, 42 by the Conservative hereditary peers, three by the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers, and 28 by the Crossbench hereditary peers.

15 The elections were held on 27–28 October 1999 and 3–4 November 1999. SO 9(2)(ii).

16 Holders of disqualifying judicial office who are members of the House receive a writ of summons at the start of each Parliament, notwithstanding their disqualification from taking part in proceedings of the House.

17 Procedure 1st Rpt 1970–71.

18 LJ (1997–98) 775. In the 2010–12 session the House twice agreed, exceptionally and temporarily, to allow three introductions on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays (Procedure 1st and 3rd Rpts 2010–12).

19 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2005–06.

20 Members of the House holding offices which give them special precedence under the House of Lords Precedence Act 1539, such as the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President and the Lord Privy Seal, may act as supporters for new members of the House; their precedence as office holders determines their seniority as supporters (Procedure 2nd Rpt 1992–93).

21 Offices 2nd Rpt 1975–76. The issue of Letters Patent entitles a newly created Lord to use their title and sit on the steps of the Throne.

22 SO 76(1).

Precedence in the queue to take the oath, after the Lord Speaker, the archbishops, the Senior Deputy Speaker and the occupants of the front benches have taken the oath, should be given to members with a disability or with impaired mobility and there is an expectation that other members will give way to those members if there is a long queue.

23 Members may take part in tributes to a recently deceased Monarch and the agreement of any associated Address before taking the oath of allegiance or making the solemn affirmation to the new Monarch.

24 SO 39(5).

25 Procedure 4th Rpt 2017–19.

26 Procedure 1st Rpt 1982–83.

27 Procedure 1st Rpt 2001–02.

28 After a demise of the Crown members do not re-sign the Test Roll nor the undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct if they have already done so in that Parliament.

29 Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866, s. 5.

30 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1993–94.

31 Procedure 1st Rpt 1970–71. This restriction does not apply to those members who, while in receipt of a writ of summons, are disqualified from attending under s. 137 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. See paragraph 1.2.

32 Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975

33 House of Lords Reform Act 2014, s. 1.

34 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2014–15.

35 House of Lords Reform Act 2014, s. 2.

36 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2014–15.

37 House of Lords Reform Act 2014, s. 3.

38 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2014–15.

39 SO 11.

40 SO 21.

41 Procedure 1st Rpt 2015–16.

42 SO 21

43 Leave of Absence 1st Rpt 1957–58.

44 House Committee 2nd and 3rd Rpts 2014–15.

45 House Committee 1st Rpt 2015–16.

46 House of Lords Commission 2nd Rpt 2019–21.

47 House Committee minutes, 19 May 2009.

48 House Committee 1st Rpt 2013–14.

49 Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, s. 41.

50 Procedure 1st Rpt 2006–07.

51 The decisions of the House with regard to the office of Lord Speaker are found in various sources, including Standing Orders; Report of the Select Committee on the Speakership of the House of Lords, HL Paper 92, 2005–06; resolutions of the House on 12 July 2005 and 31 January 2006; Procedure 3rd and 4th Rpts 2005–06, 4th Rpt 2010–12 and 6th Rpt 2017–19; and House Committee 1st Rpt 2005–06.

52 LJ (2005–06) 152.

53 An election held in such circumstances would then be treated as the “previous election” for the purpose of calculating the date of the next election.

54 Procedure Committee 2nd Rpt 2009–10.

55 Report of the Select Committee on the Speakership of the House of Lords, HL Paper 92, 2005–06 and Lord Speaker’s Committee on the size of the House 2nd Rpt 2017–19.

56 SO 61.

57 Appendices C–G.

58 Procedure 3rd Rpt 2005–06.

59 Report of the Select Committee on the Speakership of the House of Lords, HL Paper 92, 2005–06.

60 SO 16(1). See also paragraph 2.21.

61 Privileges 2nd Rpt 2009–10.

62 Conduct 11th Rpt 2019–21.

63 Procedure 4th Rpt 2005–06.

64 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

65 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17.

66 Privileges 2nd Rpt 2009–10.

67 Conduct 11th Rpt 2019–21.

68 House Committee 1st Rpt 2016–17. Motions to agree reports of the Conduct, Finance and Services Committees are tabled in the name of the relevant Chair.

69 SO 16(2).

70 SO 17.

71 SO 62(5).

72 The Crossbench group is made up of members who are not affiliated to any political party. Members who belong to smaller parties may also sit on the crossbenches.

73 This arrangement may be varied to suit the convenience of the House.

74 House Committee 2nd Rpt 2008–09.

75 Offices 1st Rpt 1999–2000.

76 House Committee, decision by correspondence, November 2004.

77 Offices 4th Rpt 1999–2000.

78 The House of Lords Commission may agree, on a case-by-case basis, to withdraw the access privileges of a member following their retirement or resignation from the House (House Committee 1st Rpt 2015–16). For members who retire or resign before a report recommending their suspension or expulsion from the House is agreed, the withdrawal of their access privileges is automatic (House of Lords Commission 2nd Rpt 2019–21). 

79 Ministers who are not Privy Counsellors, and Members of the House of Commons, may stand or sit below Bar. 

80 Referred to as ‘Black Rod’ hereafter. 

Companion to the Standing Orders of the House of Lords

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