House of Lords: Structure

House of Lords: Structure

Overall Structure

  • The House of Lords is the upper chamber of the UK parliament and complements the work of the elected House of Commons.
  • Unlike the House of Commons, it is undemocratic, as its members aren’t elected and serve for life.


  • The House of Lords has three types of members: the bishops, the hereditary peers, and the life peers.
  • Bishops: The House of Lords includes 26 bishops from the Church of England, known as the Lords Spiritual.
  • Hereditary peers: As of the House of Lords Act 1999, only 92 hereditary peers remain by election within the House of Lords.
  • Life peers: The majority of members are now life peers appointed through the Life Peerages Act 1958.


  • The Lords share the responsibility of making and shaping laws with the House of Commons.
  • They hold government to account and contribute expertise to various topics through its committee system.


  • The House of Lords has been the subject of long-term debate for reform or even abolishment to make it a fully elected chamber.
  • The most significant recent reform was the House of Lords Act 1999, passed by the Labour government, which removed most hereditary peers from the house.

Remember, while the House of Lords has been criticised as being undemocratic due to unelected membership, it does play a key role in the UK’s law-making process and upholds significant legislative and deliberative functions.