The Lords Library maintains lists of members of the House of Lords with previous or current experience in selected public roles. The chosen senior positions range across politics, government, defence, the judiciary, education, public service, culture, media, sport and religion. Members can appear more than once, demonstrating their varied careers. For example, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem (Menzies Campbell) can be found under former members of the House of Commons, leaders of political parties, and Olympic athletes.

The dataset available to download below is not an exhaustive list of each member’s background and professional experience and not every member is listed. It should therefore only be taken as an introduction to the breadth of experience amongst the membership, while bearing in mind that not all members listed are currently eligible to participate.

The dataset includes members not currently eligible to attend, for example members on leave of absence. A list of those members currently not eligible to participate can be found on the UK Parliament website.[1]

Read on for an overview or download the spreadsheet to view the data. Both titles and names are included for ease of recognition.

1. Politics

Across their careers, members have been elected to roles in devolved legislatures, the European Parliament, local government and the UK Parliament. A fifth (20%) of members of the House of Lords have served as MPs in the House of Commons. The House includes two members with experience as directly elected mayors and one former police and crime commissioner, as well as:

  • 169 former members of the House of Commons (MPs)
  • 30 former members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
  • nine former members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs)
  • eight members who have served in the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament (MSs/formerly AMs)
  • 11 former members of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLAs)
  • nine members who have served in the London Assembly (MLAs)
  • 40 former or current council leaders

Members have held leadership roles in political parties and in government. The membership includes those with experience leading devolved governments, including first ministers of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In addition to current foreign secretary and former prime minister David Cameron, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, the House includes others with cabinet-level experience. For example:

  • two deputy prime ministers
  • three foreign secretaries
  • three chancellors of the exchequer
  • five home secretaries
  • five secretaries of state for defence
  • seven leaders of the House of Commons
  • nine secretaries of state for transport

2. Civil service

Members have held a range of senior roles across the civil service. Three former directors-general of the security service (MI5) sit in the House, with three former national security advisers, and five former heads of the home civil service.

Thirteen members have served as permanent secretaries of government departments, four of whom were also head of the diplomatic service. Fourteen members have served internationally as UK ambassadors or high commissioners. This includes Lord Llewellyn of Steep (Edward Llewellyn), who is at time of writing the UK’s ambassador to Italy and San Marino.

3. Law

Although the House of Lords ceased being the UK’s highest court in 2009, it continues to have members who hold or have held senior judicial positions, including:

  • Four presidents of the Supreme Court, including the current president, Lord Reed of Allermuir (Robert Reed)
  • Three deputy presidents of the Supreme Court
  • Eight justices of the Supreme Court
  • Five chief justices of England and Wales

There are also two former attorneys general for England and Wales, two former solicitors general for England and Wales, and four former and one current advocate general for Scotland. Lord Stewart of Dirleton (Keith Stewart) serves as the current advocate general.

4. Universities

A number of members have experience in academia across a range of fields. Thirteen have been, or are currently, vice chancellors of universities or serving in similar senior executive positions in the UK and internationally. For example, Baroness Shafik (Minouche Shafik) is currently president of Columbia University in the United States after having served as director of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

5. Trade unions

Fifteen members have been general secretaries of trade unions, across a range of professions. This includes the House’s oldest sitting member, Lord Christopher (Anthony Christopher), who was general secretary of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation.

Two members have been general secretary of the Trades Union Congress: Lord Monks (John Monks) and Baroness O’Grady of Upper Holloway (Frances O’Grady). Other members have held senior positions in trade unions, including deputy general secretary.

6. Culture and media

The House of Lords counts among its membership professional dancers, actors, composers, novelists and broadcasters. Four members are BAFTA award winners. Members have also held senior leadership roles at broadcasting corporations, including the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. Five members have edited national newspapers or news magazines.

7. Sport

There are three Olympic and two Paralympic athletes in the current membership. The earliest competition a member contested was the 1964 Tokyo games, and the most recent was Baroness Grey-Thompson (Tanni Grey-Thompson) competing in Athens 2004.

Some members have experience leading sport governance bodies, including chairing the Football Association and Ice Hockey UK.

8. International roles

Six members have been EU commissioners, including Baroness Ashton of Upholland (Catherine Ashton) as the first EU high representative for foreign affairs.

The membership also includes:

  • one secretary-general of NATO, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (George Robertson)
  • a UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Baroness Amos (Valerie Amos)
  • the current secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Patricia Scotland)

9. Read more

The spreadsheet available to download below also contains lists of members who have held key roles in the armed forces, police, the royal household and religions, as well as members who have received specific honours.

Membership information is correct as at 12 April 2024. Every care has been taken to ensure the information is as complete as possible, but the Library welcomes comments on any omissions or inaccuracies that may be present. In addition, the Library would welcome suggestions from members or other readers on lists that could usefully be included in future editions.

Download members’ backgrounds in public life data in Excel (189 Kb)

Cover image: Copyright House of Lords 2022 / Photography by Annabel Moeller


  1. UK Parliament, ‘MPs and Lords: Find members of the House of Lords’, accessed 12 April 2024. Return to text