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House of Lords

The nonrepresentative chamber of *Parliament (also known as the Upper House), consisting of the Lords Spiritual and Lords Temporal. The former comprise the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London, Durham, and Winchester, and 21 other Anglican bishops selected according to seniority of appointment. The latter consist of hereditary peers and peeresses in their own right, life peers and peeresses, and the *Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. The Peerage Act 1963 allows a hereditary peerage to be disclaimed, thereby making its holder eligible for membership of the House of Commons instead. Disclaimer, which lasts for the holder’s lifetime, must take place within 12 months of succession to the title or, in the case of a person who is already a member of the Commons at the time of succession, within one month.

The House is presided over by the *Lord Chancellor and its business is arranged, in consultation with the Opposition, by a government minister appointed Leader of the House. The Lords has judicial as well as parliamentary functions. It is the final court of appeal in the UK in both civil and criminal cases. In that capacity it formally adopts opinions delivered by an Appellate Committee (of which there are two), and it is a constitutional convention that the only peers who participate in the proceedings of the committee are the Lord Chancellor, the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, and others who have held high judicial office.

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