Life peers are elevated to the peerage by the monarch in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister. Opposition party leaders can also nominate, via the Prime Minister. Life peers tend to be the 'great and the good' of the day and are characterised by their expertise and experience in their field, which may have been in politics as an MP.
An Appointments Commission, charged with making independent nominations of so-called 'people's peers' also operates. It occasionally passes names to the Prime Minister for nomination.
New life peerages are announced each year in the honours' lists. A special list follows dissolution and normally includes veteran MPs who are retiring from the Commons. Technically, there are two types of life peers. The majority are made under the 1958 Life Peerages Act. Former law lords become life peers when they retire under the 1876 Appellate Jurisdiction Act.
If a life peer dies, the right to a seat in the Lords is not passed on to anyone.
At the time of writing, the Government has announced that it intends to bring forward legislation to allow for peers to be stripped of their peerage in certain circumstances and to allow for members of the House of Lords to resign.