An invitation to join the House of Lords is a coveted reward for past service in Parliament or professional expertise and achievement. There are approximately 800 members at present (2018), whereas prior to 1999 there had been 1,330. This reduction was the result of The House of Lords Act 1999, which stopped hereditary membership.
Of the 800, twenty-six are Bishops or Archbishops from the Church of England. There are ninety-two hereditary peers who have retained their membership for the time being. The rest of the Lords are ‘life peers’, which means that the membership is individual and not able to be passed down to an heir.
Life peerages are awarded in the Queen’s Honours List and by the Prime Minister in special circumstances.
(Image: ukhouseoflords at Flickr.com / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)