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The House of Lords

The House of Lords is the second chamber, or the ‘Upper House’ of the United Kingdom’s Parliament. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the House of Lords had considerable power, being able to veto any bill submitted to it by the House of Commons.

Today the main functions of the House of Lords are to contribute to the legislative process, to act as a check on the government and to provide a forum of independent expertise. Its judicial role as a final court of appeal ended in 2009 as a result of the establishment of a new United Kingdom Supreme Court.

The House of Lords is the second chamber of the UK Parliament. It works with the House of Commons to:

  • make laws
  • check and challenge the actions of the government, and
  • provide a forum of independent expertise

The House of Lords Chamber spends about 60% of its time on legislation; the other 40% is spent on scrutiny – questioning Government and debating issues and policy. Committee work takes place outside the Chamber.

Most senior members of the Government are members of the House of Commons but there are ministers, along with two Cabinet members, in the House of Lords.

The House of Lords also contains many Members of Parliament who were in previous governments.

On 26th October 2015 The House of Lords took the exceptional step to delay the government’s plan to make changes to working tax credits. Read our analysis here.

What happens in the House of Lords Chamber each day?

Each sitting day the Members of the Lords start by questioning Government Ministers in the Chamber to find out what they are doing, or propose to do, on any subject (Oral Questions).

After Oral Questions, Lords may then examine and improve draft legislation. This may have begun in the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Members may also debate important topics to highlight what the House thinks on an issue, signalling their views to the country and the government.