House of Lords
Produced in partnership with Darragh Connell of Forum Chambers and Adam Cygan of University of Leicester
House of Lords

The following Public Law guidance note Produced in partnership with Darragh Connell of Forum Chambers and Adam Cygan of University of Leicester provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • House of Lords
  • Origins of the House of Lords
  • Composition of the House of Lords
  • Constitutional authority of the House of Lords
  • Procedural rules of the House of Lords
  • The Salisbury Convention
  • Select committees
  • Legislative communications with the House of Commons
  • The EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017 in the House of Lords
  • The Lord Speaker
  • more

The House of Lords is the upper house of Parliament in the United Kingdom. Over the course of the last hundred years, the composition of the House of Lords and the limits upon its power have changed greatly, and still greater change is sought by the main political parties. Nevertheless, the House of Lords continues to play a vital role in reviewing and amending legislation.

The judicial work of the House of Lords ended on 30 July 2009. From 1 October 2009 the UK Supreme Court has fulfilled that function pursuant to the provisions of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA 2005). For more information see Practice Notes: Separation of powers: legislative, executive and judiciary and Judges.

This Practice Note concerns the House of Lords in its existing form as part of the UK legislature.

Origins of the House of Lords

The concept of Parliament can arguably be traced back to the 11th century in the form of the ‘Witans’; an Anglo-Saxon political body made up of councils consulted by Saxon kings and attended by religious leaders, magnates and the king’s ministers.

In the 14th century two distinct Houses of Parliament emerged. Representatives from the towns and counties began to meet separately as members of the House of Commons. At the same time archbishops, bishops and sometimes abbots and priors (collectively ‘Lords Spiritual’)