This Commons Library briefing covers the questions frequently asked of MPs about the way someone receives an honour and how an honour might be removed.Jump to full report >>
Honours are awarded by the Queen, on recommendation from the Prime Minister or other senior Government ministers.
Many nominations for honours are made by the general public. Nominations are considered by specialist committees of experts, in a subject area, then forwarded to a Main Committee for further review. Recommendations then go to Ministers and to the Monarch.
Some checks are carried out on nominees to ensure the honours system is not brought into disrepute. Honours lists are published at least twice a year, in the official London Gazette.
Members of Parliament receive many questions about how their constituents can nominate someone for an honour. They also receive comments about the award of honours and the length of time taken to consider a nomination.
There is a process known for removal of an honour, known as forfeiture. An official Forfeiture Committee looks into those who may be considered unworthy to retain an honour. On their advice, the Sovereign may cancel an award and notification of this would be given in the London Gazette.
The process for award of peerages (members of the House of Lords) is different. More information on peerages can be found in House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Peerage creations since 1997. More information on award of military medals can be found in House of Commons Library Briefing Paper How to apply for a military medal.
The modern honours system, involving the Order of the British Empire, was established in 1917. Almost from that beginning there was controversy about who should receive an honour. Details on recent reviews of the honours system and more information on political honours are available in Commons Library Briefing Paper SN0283, Honours: History and reviews.