House of Lords

How To Apply To The House Of Lords As A Crossbench Peer

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Honours System | 0 comments

A crossbench peer in the House of Lords is a member who is appointed by application and not affiliated with any political party. These peers represent a neutral party in the House of Lords and are appointed based on their achievements rather than inheritance.

The House of Lords Act 1999 stated that a percentage of seats must be appointed in this way to increase the diversity of the House, moving away from inherited peerage. This intended to give a greater view of wider society from varied perspectives in order to create more informed discussions. 

Currently there are 181 cross bench peers sitting in the House of Lords out of a total of 785 seats. That’s approximately 24% of seats taken by crossbench peers without inheritance. It is intended that this figure should increase each term to enhance the diversity across the House.

How To Apply As A Crossbench Peer

Crossbench peers are recommended by the House of Lords Appointments Commission to the Prime Minister who will then forward the names of the appointments to the monarch for approval.

Before applications reach this stage, applicants are required to submit an in-depth application with detailed information regarding past achievements and experience. Recommendations from other parties will also be included to support the application.

To apply, it’s possible to self-nominate or nominate a friend or colleague if you feel their achievements require this recognition.

Each application will be judged on its own merits and success is given to those that the Commission feels will make a sizeable contribution to the House of Lords.

Here at Bayleaf, we specialise in creating compelling applications with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area. If you feel you need help or advice when making an application, get in touch with our team today.

What Characteristics Are Expected of Cross Bench Peers?

To be successful as a crossbench peer you must not belong to any political party. The role is specifically designed to be independent to provide an unbiased perspective on issues brought to debate.

Often, a crossbench peer is selected based on their career, achievements or significant contributions made to the community in fields such as law, medicine, education, business or the arts. For this reason, it’s important to highlight any particular achievements and showcase your knowledge and experience if you are intending to apply to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer.

Individuals are selected from a wide range of professional backgrounds with varied levels of expertise in the legislative process in order to provide the best possible unbiased advice and information.

The Titles And Responsibilities Of A Cross Bench Peer

Once appointed, the peer is granted the title of Baron or Baroness, or in rare occasions, a higher-ranking title. This title allows them to sit within the House of Lords.

They are then able to participate in debates, scrutinise legislation brought to the House and contribute to committee work. As they are appointed as an independent party with no ties to a political party, they are there to provide an unbiased opinion on any issues brought to the House.

As a crossbench peer holds a title given on merit, they are not able to pass this down through the family and the title ends upon their death.

Notable Cross Bench Appointments

Over the past decade, numerous distinguished individuals from various fields have been appointed crossbench peerages contributing to the expertise and experience held within the legislative process. But the competition is fierce, and there are only a finite number of spaces available each year for crossbench peers because once appointed, members can hold the position right up until death.

Here is the list of all of the esteemed peers who have been recognised over the last 10 years and a brief insight into the achievements that earned them their titles:

  • Alexandra Jessica Freeman, Baroness Freeman of Steventon – A science communicator and television producer appointed as a crossbench peer in 2024 for her for her work in science and education.

 

  • Robert Mair, Baron Mair – A geotechnical engineer and Professor of Civil Engineering, he was appointed as a crossbench peer for his research and service in large scale and international engineering projects including the London Underground extension and Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

 

  • Shaista Gohir, Baroness Gohir – A women’s rights campaigner and leader of the national charity, Muslim Women’s Network UK. She was appointed as a crossbench peer in 2022 for her dedication to the improvement of women’s rights.

 

  • Mary Watkins, Baroness Watkins of Tavistock – A Professor of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, Baroness Watkins was appointed as a crossbench peer for her dedication to the healthcare industry, co-chairing the Burdett Trust’s Nursing Now initiative and escalating to become President of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

 

  • David Anderson, Baron Anderson of Ipswich – A barrister and independent reviewer of the Terrorism Legislation in the UK between 2011 and 2017. Appointed as Knight and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) and as a crossbench peer in 2018.

 

  • Amyas Morse, Baron Morse – A former interim chair for the Office for Local Government and the Auditor General at the National Audit Office. He was awarded his peerage for services to parliament and the public sector audit.

 

  • Rosie Boycott, Baroness Boycott – A noted journalist and feminist, Baroness Boycott founded the feminist magazine Spare Rib, while working as an editor for the men’s magazine Esquire. Her publications led to her involvement in the Daily Express and then onto various BBC television programmes, where she discussed feminist viewpoints and the changes in society.

 

  • John Anthony Bird, Baron Bird – A social entrepreneur and cross bench peer appointed in 2017 for his work as the Co-Founder of The Big Issue, a magazine edited by professional journalists and sold by street vendors with profits given to the homeless.

 

  • Katherine Willis, Baroness Willis of Summertown – A noted biologist focused on the relationship between ecosystem dynamics and environmental change. She was awarded a lifetime peerage for her dedication and research into climate change and the human impact of environmental changes and sea level rise.

 

  • Deborah Bull, Baroness Bull – Began her career as a ballet dancer, writer and broadcaster, carving out a career as the creative director of the Royal Opera House. Due to her experience in the Arts, she was made a member of the Arts Council England and later, the first Executive Director of King’s College London’s Cultural Institute. Her peerage was given due to her dedication and influence in the Arts industry.

 

  • Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge – An engineer and chair of the Select Committee on Science and technology, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Appointed in 2015 as a crossbench peer for her services to the engineering and technology industry.

 

  • Sue Black, Baroness Black of Strome – A forensic anthropologist and anatomist. After two tours of Iraq as part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office she was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee. Her innovation into crime and victim identification means that her department now train the UK National Disaster Victim Identification team including police and scientists, helping to uncover advanced mortuary practices and make accurate criminal convictions.

 

  • Lionel Tarassenko, Baron Tarassenko – A leading expert in the application of signal processing and machine learning in the healthcare industry. He obtained his DPhil for his work on the early identification of brain haemorrhages in pre-term infants and developed new machine learning algorithms to apply to the analysis of sleep disorders. He was appointed as a crossbench peer in 2024 for his dedication to science and technology.

Applying for a Cross Bench Peerage

Applying for a Crossbench peerage in the House of Lords is a rigorous process that requires careful thought, planning, and attention to detail. The most successful applications are those that clearly demonstrate why the nominee deserves the peerage and highlight the significant impact they have had in their field or community.

At Bayleaf, our team of experts have extensive knowledge and experience in crafting successful applications to give deserving applicants the best chance of recognition and success when applying to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer.

For help and support in creating a successful application, contact our team today.

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