There is no fixed number of seats in the House of Lords, and its make up can change week by week. This piece provides a snapshot of its composition in June 2020.

How many Members does the Lords have?

As at 12 June 2020:

  • The total membership of the House of Lords was 797.
  • Of this total, 778 Members were eligible to attend proceedings.
  • Of the remainder, 15 were on leave of absence and four were disqualified from participating because they were serving in senior judicial roles.

How is each party/group represented?

The Conservatives comprised the largest group amongst the eligible membership, with 244 Members. The Crossbench group was the second largest, with 179. Labour had 177, while the Liberal Democrats counted 90. The remainder were split as follows: 47 sat in the non-affiliated group; there were 25 archbishops and bishops of the Church of England (Lords spiritual); and 15 represented other parties, such as the Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Green Party of England and Wales or Plaid Cymru. The Lord Speaker is categorised as ‘Other’.

Graph 1: Composition by party/group

(Note: ‘Other’ includes 47 non-affiliated Members; 15 from other parties; and the Lord Speaker).

What types of peer sit in the Lords?

Of the eligible membership, there were 666 life peers; 87 excepted hereditary peers; and 25 Lords spiritual. Life peers thus comprised over 85% of the eligible membership.

Graph 2: Composition by peerage type

(Note: of the 666 life peers, 656 were appointed under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and ten under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876. Excepted hereditary peers are ‘excepted’ from exclusion under section 2 of the House of Lords Act 1999. Section 1 of that Act states: “No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage”).

The Conservatives counted the most life peers, followed by Labour. Most excepted hereditary peers belonged to either the Conservative or Crossbench party/groups.

Graph 3: Composition by party/group and peerage type

(Note: solid colour other than for Bishops denotes life peers, while textured colour denotes excepted hereditary peers).

How many women are Members compared to men?

Of the total membership, 578 were men and 219 were women. This means women comprised 27.5% of all Members.

Table 1: Composition by peerage type and gender

Peerage type Male Female Total Percentage of House (797)
Life peers 459 213 672 84.3
Life peers (judicial) 10 1 11 1.4
Excepted hereditary peers 89 0 89 11.2
Bishops 20 5 25 3.1
Total 578 219 797 100

What is the average age of a Lords Member?

  • The mean average age of all Members was 70, and the median average was 72.
  • The highest concentration of Members in each party/group fell in the 70–79 age band, except the bishops, whose Members mostly fell in the 60–69 age band. Of the eligible membership, 3 were aged under 40 and 26 were aged 40–49. This means 3.7% of Members were aged under 50.

Graph 4: Composition of total membership by age band

Who were the youngest and oldest Members?

  • The youngest Member was Baroness Penn (Conservative), aged 35. The youngest male Member was Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay (Conservative), aged 36.
  • The oldest Member was Lord Christopher (Labour), aged 95. The oldest female Member was Baroness Gardner of Parkes (Conservative), aged 92.

Who were the longest and shortest-serving Members?

  • Lord Denham (Conservative) had the longest continuous service, having been a Member for 70 years.
  • Lord Greenhalgh (Conservative) had the shortest length of service. Along with Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Conservative), he became a Member in April 2020.

Read more

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Image: Copyright House of Lords 2019 / Photography by Roger Harris