The dominant feature of the House of Lords is that it is not elected, its members having been chosen by the executive in one form or another. Apart from senior Church of England bishops who sit ex officio and 92 hereditary members, its members, titled ‘peers’, are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister. There is, however, a limited form of internal election in that, under the House of Lords Act 1999, on the death of a hereditary member, the remaining hereditary members can elect a replacement hereditary peer (below). Once appointed, a member is entitled to remain for life, subject to the provisions of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014 (Section 11.7.3). The House of Lords therefore reflects the idea of the ‘mixed constitution’ favoured by Montesquieu (Section 7.3.1). The hereditary principle, based on landholding peerages originally conferred by the Crown in return for services, was the historical basis of the House of Lords. Today the House of Lords is mainly an appointed ‘aristocracy’ since an automatic link between inheritance and political influence is no longer acceptable, at least openly. Moreover, even if it is considered that landholding should qualify for influence in government, inheritance of a peerage is no longer linked to landholding (Administration of Estates Act 1925).
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