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- This article is about the secular members of the British House of Lords. For the fictional lords of time, see Time Lords.
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In the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Lords Temporal are secular members of the House of Lords. The term is used to differentiate these members—who are either life peers or hereditary peers, although the hereditary right to sit in the House of Lords was abolished for all but ninety-two peers in 1999—from the Lords Spiritual, who sit in the House as a consequence of being bishops in the Church of England.
Before the recent reform of the House of Lords, all peers were (potentially) members of the House of Lords, and all were Lords Temporal in this sense. The ongoing reforms limit membership in the Lords to life peers and a number of elected hereditary peers.
The Lords Temporal are all members of the Peerage. Formerly, they were all hereditary peers. The right of some hereditary peers to sit in Parliament was not automatic: after Scotland and England united into Great Britain in 1707, it was provided that all peers whose dignities had been created by English Kings could sit in Parliament, but those whose dignities had been created by Scottish Kings were to elect a limited number of "representative peers". A similar arrangement was made in respect of the Ireland when that nation merged with Great Britain in 1801, but when the Irish Free State left the United Kingdom in 1922, the election of Irish representative peers ceased. By the Peerage Act 1963, the election of Scottish representative peers also ended, and all Scottish peers were granted the right to sit in Parliament. Under the House of Lords Act 1999, only life peerages automatically entitle their holders to seats in the House of Lords. Of the hereditary peers, only 92--the Earl Marshal, the Lord Great Chamberlain and 90 elected by other peers--retain their seats in the House.
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