Web links: Chapter 19
How the House of Lords Works
The Lords section of Parliament’s website has some useful information about how the chamber works. You can also find some useful statistics on the work of the Lords in the last parliamentary session.
The Lords You Tube channel also has some explainers of Lords procedure. See for example, this clip by the Lords Enquiry Service on why it’s important to see the list of speakers for second reading debates on bills or this clip explaining how the Lords and Commons work together to amend bills. You may also like to watch this Open Lecture on the Lords given by David Beamish, in his capacity as Clerk of the Parliaments.
The difference between the Lords and the Commons
There are many differences between the two chambers but one of the most noticeable is the self-regulation in the Lords. This means that Peers are not called to speak in the same way that MPs are in the House of Commons. Most of the time this works fine, but there is sometimes confusion. Watch this video of the Lords on 6 December 2017 to see what happens. There are also several conventions which govern the behavior of the Lords regarding the governing party’s manifesto commitments and finance bills. See the report by the Joint Committee on Conventions in 2006 when it was asked to consider some of these. The House of Lords divisions on the Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations in 2015 led to further discussion of the conventions surrounding delegated legislation. You can read the debate on the regulations here or watch it here. The Strathclyde Review on Secondary Legislation and the Primacy of the House of Commons outlines more information on the relationship between the two Houses and offers proposals for reform of the conventions.
Finding out what Peers are doing
As with MPs, parliament’s website enables you to search databases to find out what individual members of the Lords have been doing. See for example:
Hansard (individual peers’ contributions to debates and questions)
Some peers have their own personal websites (see for instance Crossbench Peer David Alton). The Lords Digital Chamber shows the latest tweets, Facebook posts and blogs from peers and you can filter these by individual, party or topic.