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Preface, abbreviations and references


This is the 26th edition of the Companion to the Standing Orders of the House of Lords since Sir John Shaw-Lefevre, then Clerk of the Parliaments, compiled the first edition in 1862. The Companion is issued under the authority of the Procedure and Privileges Committee.

The last two years have seen unprecedented procedural and technological change during the Covid-19 pandemic. From April 2020 until September 2021, the House met either fully virtually or in hybrid form with a small number of members being present, socially-distanced, in the Chamber and other members joining remotely. Since September 2021, the House has in most respects reinstated its pre-pandemic procedures, but with some exceptions, perhaps the most striking of which is that the House has now made permanent provision for a small number of members to continue to participate virtually, on grounds of long-term disability.(1)

The Companion is the authoritative guide to Lords procedure, but it is by no means the only source of information. The Companion should be read alongside the Standing Orders of the House.(2) The most comprehensive guide to the procedures of both Houses is Erskine May, the 25th edition of which is available online and is regularly updated.(3) Guidance for members on key elements of Lords procedure and taking part in business is given in the Short Guide to Practice and Procedure in the Chamber and Grand Committee and in the booklets on participation in legislative business issued by the Legislation Office,(4) while general services are covered in the Handbook on facilities and services for members and their staff.(5) Members should also consult the Guide to the Code of Conduct,(6) and the Guide to Financial Support for Members.(7)

I do hope you will find this edition of the Companion helpful in describing the procedures and practices of the House. My colleagues and I who support the House are always available to advise members further as required.

Clerk of the Parliaments



Erskine May Erskine May’s Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings
and Usage of Parliament, 25th edition, 2019
HL Deb. House of Lords Official Report (Hansard)
LJ House of Lords Journals
PBSO Private Business Standing Order
SO  Public Business Standing Order


References to House of Lords committee reports

Conduct Select Committee on Conduct
Leave of Absence House of Lords (Leave of Absence) Select
Offices Select Committee on the House of Lords’ Offices
Procedure Select Committee on Procedure of the House
Procedure and Privileges Select Committee on Procedure and Privileges


1 This is reflected in Chapter 4.







Companion to the Standing Orders of the House of Lords

Access a PDF version of the Companion, including the index.

PDF version