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Facts about the House of Lords

The House of Lords is the UK Parliament's second chamber. Its main job is to 'double check' new laws to make sure they are fair and will work. Here are a few more facts about the House of Lords.

world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 00:12 IST

* The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and is also commonly referred to as "the Lords".

* Parliament comprises the Sovereign, the House of Commons (which is the lower house of Parliament and referred to as "the Commons"), and the Lords.

* The House of Lords, like the House of Commons, assembles in the Palace of Westminster.

* As of July 2009 the House of Lords has 740 members, 94 more than the 646 seat House of Commons.

* The new parliament of UK was, in effect, the continuation of the Parliament of England with the addition of 45 MPs and 16 Peers to represent Scotland.

* Members of the House of Lords who sit by virtue of their ecclesiastical offices are known as Lords Spiritual. Formerly, the Lords Spiritual were the majority in the House of Lords, including the Church of England's archbishops, diocesan bishops, abbots, and priors.

* Lords Temporals are publicly partisan, aligning themselves with one or another of the political parties that dominate the House of Commons.

* Several different qualifications apply for membership of the House of Lords. No person may sit in the House of Lords if under the age of 21. Furthermore, only citizens of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth citizens, and citizens of the Republic of Ireland may sit in the House of Lords.

* Traditionally the House of Lords did not elect its own speaker, unlike the House of Commons; rather, the ex officio presiding officer was the Lord Chancellor.

* Whilst presiding over the House of Lords, the Lord Chancellor traditionally wore ceremonial black and gold robes. This is no longer a requirement for the Speaker.

* House of Lords does not control the term of the Prime Minister or of the Government.