The House of Lords - main issues
Lord Chancellor - the House of Lords is chaired by him. He traditionally sits on a woolsack, a large square seat covered with red cloth, the symbol of Britain's former wealth. However, unlike the Speaker of the Commons, the lord Chancellor is not concerned with order. He is also a member of the Cabinet and he is the chief law officer.
The House of Lords is made up of the Lords Temporal, the Lords Spiritual and the Law Lords.
The Lords Temporal - comprise all Hereditary Peers (now about 784) and Life Peers (now about 379). Peers are not elected and do not represent a constituency.
Hereditary Peers - have inherited their titles due to being the heads of aristocratic families. This means that they are members of the House of Lords simply as a result of something their ancestors did. They have the titles of dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons.
Life Peers - have usually had a distinguished career in politics, business, law or some other profession. They are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. Life Peers do not pass on their title when they die.
The Lords Spiritual -are the representatives of the Church of England (the Archbishops of York and Canterbury and 24 senior bishops).
The Law Lords - since 1876 they were the most senior judges in the land who represented the highest Court of Appeal for Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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