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The House of Lords is the upper chamber.

· The House of Lords is presided over by Lord Speaker. The office is analogous to the Speaker of the House of Commons: the Lord Speaker is "appointed" by the members of the House of Lords and is expected to be politically impartial. Until July 2006, the role of presiding officer in the House of Lords was undertaken by the Lord Chancellor. Under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, the position of the Speaker of the House of Lords (as it is termed in the Act) became a separate office, allowing the position to be held by someone other than the Lord Chancellor. Nowadays Lord Speaker of the House of Lords (2009) is Baroness Hayman.

· There is no fixed number of members in the House of Lords, but currently there are 740 members (July 2009). Historically most members of the House of Lords have been what are called hereditary peers. This means that years ago a king or queen nominated a member of the aristocracy to be a member of the House and, since then, the right to sit in the House has passed through the family from generation to generation*. Clearly this is totally undemocratic and the current Labour Government has now abolished the right of all but 92 of these hereditary peers to sit in the House. Almost all the other members of today’s House of Lords are what are called life peers. This means that they have been chosen by the Queen, on the advice of the Government, to sit in the House for as long as they live, but afterwards no member of their family has the right to sit in the House. There is no fixed number of life peers, but the current number is 608 (July 2009). Many are former senior politicians. Others are very distinguished figures in fields such as education, health and social policy. A small number of other members – 26 – are Lords Spirituals – Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England.

The House of Lords Chamber is arranged in the following way: it has a throne (instead of the Speaker’s chair in the HC) with a canopy and woolsack (sources of Britain’s prosperity) where the Lord Speaker sits. The Chamber is divided into two sides separated by a green line – the right side (the governmental one) and the left side (the opposition’s one). It contains the cross benches as well. The benches are red leather. If the Lord Speaker decides to address the Chamber as an ordinary he leaves the woolsack.

Date: 2014-12-29; view: 1121

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