7 biggest legislatures worldwide - what about the House of Lords?

House Of Lords

Speaker of the House John Bercow called for a cut in the Lords on Friday, as reported by the BBC. How big does the Lords compare to other chambers?

The Buckinghamshire MP said:

“"One can argue the toss about the size of the House of Commons, but as far as the House of Lords is concerned, it's frankly patently absurd that the House of Lords is significantly larger than the House of Commons.”

How big is the chamber? And how does it compare to other chambers around the world?

7th biggest – Italy’s Chamber of Deputies

Italy’s lower-chamber is the seventh biggest political chamber in the world when it comes to membership. 630 deputies are elected via a proportional voting system, with the country’s Democratic party currently being the largest in the chamber. Led by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the party current rules in coalition with a range of parties.

6th biggest – Germany’s Bundestag

Germany goes to the polls next week to elect a new parliament using a mixed member proportional representation voting system. The chamber currently has 630 members, but the numbers can vary after each election due to overhang members which can be added to address disproportionality. The current government is a grand coalition between Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU and the centre-left SPD. Next Sunday, it is expected that six parties will enter the Bundestag, up from the current four.

5th biggest – British House of Commons

With 650 members, the UK’s lower chamber is currently the world’s fifth biggest legislative body on the planet. The number of MPs has varied over the years due to numerous boundary changes, but in modern times there have been anywhere between 600 and 650 MPs in the Commons.

4th biggest – North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly

Despite the country being ruled by one man, Kim-Jong-un, and its relatively small population of 25 million, North Korea boasts the fourth largest legislative body in the world. The Supreme People’s Assembly (최고인민회의) has 687 members, with 607 of them belonging to the Workers’ Party.

3rd biggest – European Parliament

The European Parliament is the only pan-national body to make the top seven, dwarfing the 265 seats in the African Union’s pan-African parliament. Situated in Brussels – and Strasbourg – the European Parliament has 751 members, a number that will probably change once the UK leaves the union in 2019.

2nd biggest – British House of Lords

With 808 members, it is no wonder that Bercow wishes to see the number of peers cut in half. Its size, while currently ginormous, has in fact been bigger. A House of Lords parliamentary report shows that in 1998-1999, there were 1,325 peers in the chamber. The number was cut to 693 a year later, but it has steadily risen since.

The biggest legislative body in 2017 – China’s National People’s Congress

With three seats short of 3,000 members, China’s unicameral congress is three times larger than the next biggest legislature on this list. The congress is not voted for directly by the people, but over 2,000 of its members are from the Communist Party while the rest are Communist Party allies.


The House of Lords is the biggest legislature in a democracy in the world, but it is only the second largest body when China and other non-democracies are included.

Furthermore, the House of Commons is also large by international standards, dwarfing the 435 members of the US House of Representatives, despite America’s much larger population.

Memberships for different chambers included in this article are based off this Wikipedia collection of legislatures by country.

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