Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle: My Lords, having delivered one of the opinions in the report, perhaps I may make a few comments. The position is very simple. What was referred to the committee was the determination of whether the 11th Baron Farnham was created a Baron of the United Kingdom. He was the 11th Baron and a hereditary Irish Peer. He was elected as one of the 28 representative Peers of Ireland prior to the separation of Ireland and the constitution of the Irish Free State. The first question before the committee was whether, when he continued to sit in your Lordships' House after 1922, when the Irish Free State was separated from Great Britain, he sat by virtue of election for life before 1922 or whether he sat by virtue of some other reason.

If he sat by virtue of his election for life that was the end of the matter. The petitioner never suggested that a Barony by Writ could have been created in him if he was there by virtue of his election. The creation of a Barony by Writ could have arisen only if he ceased to have the right to sit by virtue of his election and he sat by virtue of his Writ of Summons.

The committee had no difficulty in concluding that he was elected for life. He sat for life by virtue of his election and, accordingly, no possible question could have arisen as to the creation of a Barony by Writ.

I should say to the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, that if any Member of this House who sat here by virtue of a Writ was automatically created a Baron by Writ it would have followed that all the 16 Scottish representative Peers who sat between 1707 and 1963 would, by their Writ of Summons at the parliament in question, have been created Baron by Writ. They would have been hereditary Peers with the right to sit in this House without regard to the election of the 16. Nobody ever suggested such an idea. In my submission, it is absolutely clear that no question of a Barony by Writ arises here, even if there were a competence, these days, to create it.

The committee considered fully the matters raised by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, and reached a unanimous conclusion on the matter. I therefore support the Motion put forward by the Chairman of Committees.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1098

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, it is only fair that somebody should speak in defence of the unfortunate Irish Peers. I declare an interest to the extent that I am an Irish Peer by senior title and at one stage I was chairman of the Irish Peers Association. I recognise that it is extremely difficult to justify representing something which does not exist. However, having said that, I find that members of the Irish Peerage have rather adopted the role of the Flying Dutchman—they have nowhere to go. They are not dissimilar to the late Sir Winston Churchill who at one time during his illustrious career, I think I am right in saying, found himself without a party, without a constituency and without a bottom. That situation is rather similar to that of the Irish Peers.

It would be rather brave and some may think rather arrogant to take on the expert wisdom of the noble and learned Lords who are Lords of Appeal in Ordinary who were members of the Committee for Privileges, some of whom I see in their places today. They have had the benefit of extensive advice which I cannot put before the House because, as my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham said, we do not wish to waste too much time on this matter. But I emphasise that this is the last call to supper as it were for the Irish Peers. I perceive, and the association perceives, that they have had their privileges and rights somewhat undermined.

I know that my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham is of a mind to reject most things that might be said which are contrary to the opinion reached by the Committee of Privileges. He will correct me if I am wrong but I believe that he said that a Barony by Writ exists only for life.

Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone: My Lords, I never said anything of the kind and I am in the recollection of the House.

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble and learned friend. I had thought that that is what he said and, of course, that is not right. A Barony by Writ is created for the descendants and so on.

The Committee for Privileges paid a great deal of attention to the provisions of the Act of 1800. The wording early on in one of the paragraphs showed that it appeared to be the intention of the Act that Peers would be elected to Westminster by their number to represent a part of Ireland.

That was accepted by the Committee for Privileges and it gave due credence to that. But I must point out that the same paragraph states that:


    "all Peerages of Ireland created after the Union shall have Rank and Precedency with the Peerages of the United Kingdom, so created, according to the Dates of their Creations: and that all Peerages both of Great Britain and Ireland, now subsisting or hereafter to be created, shall in all other respects, from the Date of the Union, be considered as Peerages of the United Kingdom; and that the Peers of Ireland shall, as Peers of the United Kingdom, ... enjoy all Privileges of Peers as fully as the Peers of Great Britain".

I do not believe that the Act of 1922 repealed anything in relation to that which I have just quoted. If that is so, one could raise an argument that rights and privileges of the Peers of Ireland have not so much been removed as fallen into abeyance because nobody paid a great deal of attention to that matter, which is rather sad.

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1099

As my noble friend the Chairman of Committees said, we are extremely grateful to Lord Farnham for going ahead with his Petition as it gives us the opportunity to clarify the situation and at least we shall go down with all flags flying. I believe that the Irish Peers have been unfairly treated.

In the fourth article, it is deemed that the Irish Peers represented part of Ireland. It has been argued with some justification that under the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act 1922, Ireland did not exist politically and therefore it was impossible to have any representation of Ireland as it just did not exist. If that is accepted, as I am sure it is, I do not deny it; and if the Irish Peers were not representing Ireland, who were they representing? If the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, is arguing that they were representing nobody and they were representing themselves, then a continued Writ of Summons being received each time that there was a new parliament would seem to suggest that there is a strong case for arguing that a Barony by Writ has been created.

On the other hand, if the Irish Peers were representing a part of Ireland and Northern Ireland is still a part of Ireland, and Ireland did not exist politically, then they had to represent someone and it could be argued that they were representing the Peerage of Ireland. There were Peers in Ireland well before 1800 and many Irish families paid great service to their country. They were of great assistance in relation to matters connected with Ireland and this country. It would be a pity if that relationship were to be removed because of a doubt about the correctness of the decision of this Committee. What will happen in the future? In 1800, it was not thought possible that the union of Ireland and Great Britain would ever come to an end. Therefore, no provision was made in the Act for the termination of that union. Similarly, under the Irish Free State (Agreement) Act 1922, I am sure that noble Lords will agree with me, there appears to be no possibility of a union of Ireland with this country. But we do not know. That could happen. If Peers of Ireland were permitted to sit in this House by Writ, as some would be, they might be able to assist your Lordships. I shall not detain your Lordships any longer.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, I believe that the Irish Peers have suffered rather badly. I do not think that their treatment has been entirely right; indeed, there are arguments on their side. However, I detect the feeling of the House and I believe that it would be wrong for us to go back to the Committee for Privileges, which consists of several noble and learned Lords. On that basis, I cannot support the amendment moved, with understanding, by the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell.

Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle: My Lords, before the noble Viscount sits down, could he read to the House the last sentence of the fourth article, following on the reference to Peers of Ireland enjoying privileges of Great Britain—a sentence which he did not read to us and which I believe your Lordships may find to be relevant?

Noble Lords: Oh!

5 Jul 1995 : Column 1100

Lord Jauncey of Tullichettle: My Lords, in the circumstances, perhaps I may read it for him. It says that Peers of Ireland,


    "shall enjoy all Privileges of Peers as fully as the Peers of Great Britain; the Right and Privilege of sitting in the House of Lords, and the Privileges depending thereon, and the Right of sitting on the Trial of Peers, only excepted".

Lord Mowbray and Stourton: My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for long. I am slightly amazed to hear some of the speeches that have been made today. I had the honour of sitting on the Committee for Privileges where we were very well advised by the learned Attorney-General and the learned counsel, Mr. Fisher, on behalf of Lord Farnham, who I must confess is a personal friend of mine and whom I should have loved personally to see in this House. But we do not do such things in the way that the noble Earl, Lord Longford, seems to imagine, on the ground of whether we sing The King after dinner. If that is the law of the land now, God help us. If we sing "The Red Flag", do we go under Russia, or what?

However, it is nothing to do with that. I do not believe that some of the people who have spoken today can really have read the report of the Committee for Privileges. My noble friend Lord Mountgarret talked about the unfair treatment of the peerage of Ireland. With all honesty—and I am the first one to defend Peers of any sort—I do not think that they have been unfairly treated; indeed, they have been treated fairly. If your country is abolished as part of a kingdom, it is not anyone's fault: it is the opinion of politics which has taken place.

I have one further small point to make. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, addressed Mowbray and Stourton. I have to say that only Mowbray is by Writ, although Segrave is by Writ (my other one). Stourton is by Letters Patent. I believe that we owe a great debt to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Jauncey, and to the other noble and learned Lords on the committee. We were admirably advised and we were all unanimously convinced by the arguments put forward. No one goes into such matters with preconceived views. One listens to the case. The case as put in the paper of Lord Farnham was admirably argued. Like the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, I am totally amazed as to why people should be trying to fight the case as though there are enemies about trying to do them down. It is a matter of simple law to which we all listened with great interest and which has been admirably explained by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Jauncey.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page