House of Lords

The second British chamber is called the House of Lords, which has no real power and only limited influence. Although the Lords can delay a bill, they cannot stop it becoming law, even if they continue to refuse it. Its role, therefore, is a consultative one. In the Lords, bills can be discussed in more detail than the busy Commons have time for, and in this way irregularities and inconsistencies in these proposals can be avoided before they become law. The Lords can also act as a check on any governments which are becoming too dictatorial.

The House of Lords' chamber is similar to that of the Commons, but at the end of the chamber there is the royal throne from which the Queen reads her speech at the Opening of Parliament. The members of the Lords are aristocrats. In fact, only a very small proportion of them are there by hereditary right. In 1958, a law was passed which made it possible to award life peerages. These gave people entitlement to sit in the Lords, but not the children of these people. By the end of the twentieth century, so many life peers had been appointed that it was common for them to form a majority over the hereditary peers. In 1999, the number of aristocrats with the right to sit in the Lords was limited to 92 (about 15% of the total members). The value of the Lords lies in the fact that its members do not depend on party politics for their positions. Because they are there for life, they do not have to worry about losing their positions. This means they can take decisions independently. The House was presided over by the Lord Chancellor, but with the passage of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the post of Lord Speaker was created, a position to which a peer is elected by the House and subsequently appointed by the Crown. The two main types of lords are The Lord Temporal (life peers and hereditary peers) and The Lord Spiritual (26 most senior bishops of the Church of England).