The House of Lords debates bills and has the authority to change or reject them. The Lords' ability to reject a measure approved by the House of Commons, on the other hand, is severely limited by the Parliament Acts. Furthermore, the Upper House has no authority to change any supply bill. All money bills must be passed by both houses of Parliament.
How does the House of Lords work? Since the 12th century, all British laws have required the approval of both Houses of Parliament before they can become law. There are currently 92 members of the House of Lords, including 38 bishops from the Church of England, 16 judges of the Supreme Court, 13 members of the Welsh Government, three members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, two members of the Scottish Government and one member each from Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Lucia.
Who chooses the Lords? The Prime Minister selects the Lords' members. He or she does this based on recommendations from government ministers and officials. Generally, these people are elected MPs or members of other legislatures. However, there are some exceptions: for example, judges cannot stand for election but instead are appointed by the Prime Minister.
Can anyone become a Lord? Yes. Anyone who has been made an honorary lord can become a real lord by being introduced into the House of Lords.
Legislative powers With the exception of money measures, legislation may be submitted in either House. In general, the Lords can delay but not prevent passage of bills that it has not itself introduced.
Bills may be proposed by ministers (fiscal policies) or members of the House of Lords (most other types of policy). Ministers may propose bills without reference to their parties, but they are likely to be based on proposals made by party leaders. The Lord Chancellor, who is also the government chief whip, decides which bills will become laws and receives advice on this from his or her ministerial colleagues.
House of Lords legislative power was originally only advisory, but through various reforms since 1660 it has become largely determinative as well. The House of Lords can veto bills that have been passed by the House of Commons, but may only do so with respect to those bills that have not yet received the Royal Assent; that is, the formal declaration by the King or Queen that he or she has signed them into law. If the King or Queen refuses to sign a bill, it cannot become law without their approval being obtained again. Refusal to give royal assent to a bill that has already been passed by the House of Commons causes it to fail immediately after its presentation to the monarch.
Legislative powers The House of Lords debates bills and has the authority to change or reject them. Certain types of measures may be offered for Royal Assent without the permission of the House of Lords under certain Acts (i.e., the Commons can overcome the Lords' veto). The Lords can also delay legislation by refusing to pass it into law within a specified time limit; however, if the government wishes to force the issue, then it can do so with additional votes.
The power of rejection is used by both houses of Parliament. The House of Commons can refuse to pass a bill that has been approved by the House of Lords with a majority vote of those members present and voting. If they do so, the bill does not become law; instead, it is returned to the house in which it was originally introduced for reconsideration by that body.
In practice, however, there are several reasons why MPs might agree to have legislation rejected by the Lords. Most obviously, they may wish to prevent the Lords from altering some aspect of the text before it is passed into law. However, MPs may also feel that particular bills are inappropriate for consideration by the upper chamber or that they want to send a message to other countries or their own constituents about how they plan to use their legislative powers. Finally, an MP may believe that passing a bill but rejecting it later would create a more effective political weapon than killing it off immediately.