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House of Lords of the United Kingdom

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The House of Lords chamber

The House of Lords or the House of Peers is one of the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The House of Lords is the upper house and the House of Commons is the lower house. The House of Lords is less important than the House of Commons. A bill has to pass the House of Commons first and than the House of Lords.

The Lords aren't elected by public elections, unlike the House of Commons. The Lords of Peers are appointed, excluding 90 hereditary peers (who elect themselves). In the past the House of Lords consisted of the British nobility, but today only a small part of the members are noble too. The house has 775 members. Like the House of Commons, the government parties and the opposition parties sit opposite of each other. On the side of the government the members of the Conservative Party (234) and the Lords Spiritual (26) take place. A Lord Spiritual is a bishop or archbishop of the Church of England. The side of the opposition parties consists of the Labour Party (179), the Liberal Democrats (94), the UK Independence Party (1), the Green Party of England and Wales (1), Plaid Cymru (1), the Democratic Unionist Party (4), the Ulster Unionist Party (2), 44 non-affiliated members and 6 independents.

On the crossbench the hereditary peers are sitting. These are dukes, earls and counts. In the past they could give their job to their children, but today it's more about what they do for society. They're called crossbenchers and sit on the opposite of the Lord Speaker, who is also one of the members. All the Lords are chosen by a committee. The party to which they belong doesn't matter. The members are or were scientists, former politicians, professors, lawyers and so on. Their job is to check bills before they pass them, to help the members of the House of Commons with bills and to check the government.