House of Lords Library

Hereditary By-elections: Results

Published Thursday, July 20, 2017

This House of Lords Library briefing provides a list of hereditary peers’ by-election results since the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, including information on turn out and the number of candidates.

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The House of Lords Act 1999 removed most hereditary peers from the House of Lords. Under the Act, 90 hereditary peers retained their places, elected by their fellow party/group colleagues to remain as Members.  Since the start of the 2002–03 session, when one of the 90 hereditary peers dies, retires or is excluded, a replacement is chosen in a by-election. 

There are two different types of by-election. Of the 90 hereditary peers, 15 were elected to provide the House with Members able to act as Deputy Speakers and other office-holders. They are voted for by the whole House.  Replacements for vacancies among the remaining 75 are voted for by the other hereditary peers in a particular party or by the Crossbench hereditary peers. In 1999, the 75 seats were allocated proportionally to reflect the affiliations of the hereditary peers who sat prior to the House of Lords Act. Consequently, for the purposes of by-elections, 42 are elected by Conservative hereditary peers; two are elected by Labour hereditary peers; three are elected by Liberal Democrat hereditary peers; and 28 are elected by Crossbench hereditary peers.

In addition to these 90 Members, two peers—the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain—remain Members of the Lords by virtue of the royal offices they hold. Some hereditary peers who were Members of the House prior to the 1999 Act were also given life peerages.

Lords Library notes LLN-2017-0047

Author: Edward Scott

Topics: House of Lords, Members of the Lords, Parliament, Parliamentary procedure

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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.