House of Lords Library

Size of the House of Lords

Published Friday, January 29, 2016

This Library Note provides statistics and background information on the changing size of the House of Lords since the 1992–93 session alongside commentary and debates on the subject of the House’s size over recent years.

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As at 27 January 2016, the total membership (the ‘absolute’ membership) of the House of Lords was 859. However, excluding those currently ineligible to sit (such as Members on leave of absence or those holding particular posts) the ‘actual’ membership was 820. The average attendance of the House of Lords in the 2014–15 session was 483 and the current average age of the House is 69.

Changes in the actual membership and absolute membership of the House of Lords since the 1992–93 session can be seen in the following graph alongside average attendance for each session:

The graph shows that up to the House of Lords Act 1999 (which removed a large proportion of the hereditary Peers), the actual and absolute membership of the House of Lords was over 1000. The average daily attendance at this time ranged between 350 and 450. Following the reduction in membership that resulted from the 1999 Act, the last decade has seen a general increase in the membership of the House—both in actual and in absolute terms. In addition, the average daily attendance recorded in the last four sessions (figures are not yet available for the current session) were at their highest rate over the last 20 years. However, average daily attendance did decrease slightly over the last two sessions, dropping from 497 in session 2013–14 to 483 in session 2014–15.

This Note contains information and statistics on the changing membership of the House of Lords, and covers some of the recent discussions and debates over the House’s size. It also briefly outlines the changes made by the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 and highlights a number of proposals that have been put forward to limit the size of the House.

Lords Library notes LLN-2016-0006

Author: Russell Taylor

Topic: House of Lords

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House of Lords Library

The House of Lords Library delivers research and information services to Members and staff of the House in support of parliamentary business.