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Lord Clifford of Chudleigh: I thank all those who have spoken in support of the amendment. I thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House. I should like to answer her question in part. I repeat the part of my speech in which I referred to existing powers to control the executive. I should say to the noble Baroness, while she is having a little giggle on the Front Bench, that she should listen to the public. It is the public who tell me that they are extremely disappointed that there does not seem to be any control over the executive exercised by another place. That is why I raised that issue. It was not to score brownie points.

The Front Bench of Her Majesty's Government should understand that I speak as an independent Peer. The Government are aiming to make sure that the independent Peers are retained in the House and would like it to have that independence. I am not here to delay the House. Our main role--it does not matter whether we are life or hereditary Peers--is to ensure that we ask the other place to think again and not to rush things. We do not wish to see the legislators trip up. We want to see things done correctly. I am not trying to waste time, as I am being accused of. I shall sit down but I ask Members of the Committee to bear in mind that I shall probably revisit this issue on Report having given everyone the opportunity of reading counsel's opinion. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Earl of Clanwilliam moved Amendment No.18.

Page 1, line 5, after ("Lords") insert ("only")

The noble Lord said: In moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 26, 64 and 153. Amendment No. 26, which is the main one, cannot be

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claimed to be a wrecking or delaying amendment. Indeed, it is not even anything to do with arcane construction in the legal sense. It throws a crumb, which I hope Members opposite will pick up.

In moving the amendment I am conscious that it goes against the grain of the feelings of those Members of the Committee who call for the elimination of all hereditary involvement in our Parliament. But Members will observe a caveat which provides a degree of democratic legitimacy to hereditary Peers; a legitimacy that is the cause, shall I say, of the resentment or perhaps disquiet that occasions the demands for our removal.

This House has been established as a House of hereditary Peers for some 750 years, maintained notably by the noble Lords, Lord Strabolgi and Lord Berkeley, from the opposite Benches, who, unfortunately, are not in their places. It is they and their fellows who have fashioned the principles and manners of our debate. The more recent appointees who have come to this House have come to learn, appreciate and uphold these ways and means. We, the hereditaries, are not to be rubbished into the dustbin of history. The Stalinist putsch is not by any means in the traditions of this House.

Without wishing to lecture noble Lords, perhaps I may say that these principles and manners are unique in that they are a matter not only of admiration and envy throughout the democratic world and in other legislative chambers; but are also regarded in amazement. I was expecting a roar of laughter at that. The amazement is in the understanding that they are manners that work well and better than in most political fora.

These are activities and advantages that the other place does not enjoy. If the reformed Chamber is to be elected, appointed or a mixture of both, it is important that such traditions are respected and protected. I suggest that a hereditary element should be preserved provided that that element can justify its democratic legitimacy. What better way is there of creating such democratic legitimacy than at the polls in the United Kingdom and in service in our political institutions as Amendment No. 26 provides.

Seven years service will provide a double test at the polls and a sufficient degree of proficiency in the political field to enable Peers to make a worthwhile contribution to the debates in the Chamber both as politicians and as concerns their outside interests. Such will be necessary if they are to have sufficient income to perform their duties adequately and will, by definition, provide an expertise in the life of the country outside the somewhat incestuous life of politics. Hereditary Peers, as has been pointed out by noble Lords throughout the Chamber, have a varied and remarkable experience which is a source worthy of tapping.

A hereditary Peer will have the privilege only during his lifetime and it would be up to his or her heirs to prove their right in their own turn to gain the privilege under the amendment. Thus there will be in perpetuity the right of a hereditary Peer to qualify, sit and vote in the upper Chamber. I emphasise the word "qualify". That, I believe, would be a reasonable and proper remembrance and memorial to the service that we and our forebears have left to the British Parliament.

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It may be objected that an unusual number of Peers would be created who would seriously change the balance of the House. That could be a matter for the appointments commission.

There are several more pages to my speech. I should like to refer in particular to a remark made by the noble Lord, Lord Charteris of Amisfield, at Second Reading. He voiced concern at the possible implication for the monarchy of the demise of the hereditary principle. The noble Baroness, Lady Jay, assured us that Her Majesty is content with this Bill. Nevertheless, we have heard from many quarters that there is concern throughout the country that the Bill is the thin edge of the wedge prising the constitution apart towards a republic.

I need only refer to,

    "Blairite think-tank wants to downgrade the Queen's foreign role", which appeared in yesterday's Evening Standard to impress upon your Lordships the need for everybody in this Chamber to understand that there is a fear that this Bill will affect the legitimacy of the monarchy. Let us beware of throwing the baby out with the bathwater in our rush to complete the third way.

It is also evident that there is an element of the Weatherill amendment which indicates that there is a use for hereditary Peers, even though they will wither on the vine. This amendment ensures that there will always be a place for hereditary Peers who can earn it and deserve it to sit, speak and vote in your Lordships' Chamber. I beg to move.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Although it is late, my noble friend has come forward with an ingenious amendment. The Government seemed to have only two objections to hereditary Peers. One was the numbers game; namely, that far too many hereditary Peers seem to end up, even if their forebears had been appointed by Labour governments, on the Conservative Benches. I suggested earlier that perhaps if more hereditary Peers sat on the Labour Benches we might not be having this Bill. But I detected from the body language on the Government Benches that I was perhaps wrong.

Perhaps it is the second point that irritates them; that is, a lack of democratic legitimacy. My noble friend Lord Clanwilliam has given the Government an opportunity to look at the possibility of retaining some hereditary Peers, but only those who have received democratic legitimacy by being elected Members, perhaps not of an elected second Chamber but of other elected bodies in the country. He listed them in his Amendment No. 26.

The first is the House of Commons. Of course, there are no examples of that nature because currently no hereditary Peer can be elected to the House of Commons unless they renounce their Peerage. We are discussing the position on the assumption that this Bill passes and hereditary Peers no longer have a seat here and have a right to vote and stand for election to the House of Commons. In those circumstances there may well be somebody who is elected to the House of Commons who would therefore fall into the category of this amendment.

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But there are Members of your Lordships' Chamber who are undoubtedly represented in the other groups. I wondered whether the amendment could be christened the Stockton amendment. My noble friend Lord Stockton is standing for the European Parliament and I confidently predict that he will be elected. My noble friends Lord Bethell and Lord Inglewood are also standing and I equally confidently predict that they will be elected. I can certainly do it in the case of my noble friend Lord Inglewood because he is in the happy position, given the ridiculous electoral system, that he does not have to do a hand's turn to be elected because he is number one on the list. I happen to know my noble friend is working very hard, but that is one of the consequences of the list system. It is only people like my noble friend Lord Stockton who is in what I think they call the cusp position in the list who has to do some solid work. If he succeeds, he gets elected; if he does not succeed in attracting a few more votes, he does not get elected.

I point that out as an aside to show how iniquitous the list system is. But your Lordships know it is iniquitous despite the votes we had on the subject. As I calculate, my noble friends Lord Stockton, Lord Bethell and Lord Inglewood will be elected to the European Parliament. If, after a couple of terms in that Parliament, they decide they have had enough or get dropped down the list, whatever may happen to the list system, and they leave the European Parliament, then they certainly have democratic legitimacy. In fact they will have more democratic legitimacy than many life Peers. They will have been elected for 10 years; that is more than many life Peers. They will have been elected for 10 years--for two five-year terms--and that is more than can be said for many life Peers. I only managed eight years in the other place. So the European Parliament is a good example in that respect. My noble friend Lord O'Hagan was a member of the European Parliament and is obviously a hereditary Member of this place. He was certainly elected democratically for the European Parliament and would fall within my noble friend's amendment.

As to the Scottish Parliament, I have already indicated that my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas, flying under his pre-title day, is even more confusing to most people because he inherited the title of the Earldom of Selkirk long after he became Lord James Douglas-Hamilton. Indeed, it has to be said that he was Lord James Douglas-Hamilton all the time that he was the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh West. He then inherited the Earldom of Selkirk, which he gave up. Unfortunately, the electorate then gave him up and he came here as Lord Selkirk of Douglas. However, my noble friend will end up in the Scottish Parliament. Some of us think that he ought to be the speaker of that parliament. Knowing his tenacity, I suspect that he will be elected to that parliament for a number of terms. Therefore, when he decides to retire from the Scottish Parliament, it seems to me that it would be reasonable to say that he had certainly been democratically elected and that he could resume his seat in your Lordships' House.

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My noble friend Lord Sempill is also standing for the Scottish Parliament and the same argument holds for him. If he were to be elected for, say, a few terms, he would certainly have plenty of democratic legitimacy. To show that this is not just a Tory concern, I should point out to the Committee that the noble Viscount, Lord Thurso, is standing for the Liberal Democrats. If he were to be elected for a couple of terms, it would be reasonable to claim that he had plenty of democratic legitimacy if he wanted to come here.

Members of the Committee may be pleased to know that I am not aware of any hereditary Peers who are thinking about standing for the Northern Ireland Assembly. Therefore, I am afraid that I shall just have to pass that by. Similarly, I do not believe that any hereditary Peers are standing for the Welsh Assembly, although I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, who is a life Peer, intends to do so. However, he would not fall under this provision.

We do not have regional assemblies in England; indeed, I doubt very much that we will ever have them. I believe that that is one of these little pies in the sky which get kicked about so as to keep the people happy and the West Lothian question at bay. The proposition of regional assemblies in England seems to me to show a total failure to understand the West Lothian question or, indeed, federal states. Nevertheless, we shall leave that to one side.

There is, of course, the new Greater London Authority. I imagine that some hereditary Peers--I know not who--may be standing in that respect. There is certainly a life Peer who is more than a little interested in leading the Greater London Authority as the elected mayor; namely, my noble friend Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare. There are also many hereditary Members of your Lordships' House who serve on local authorities, some of whom have given a good deal more service than seven years. Indeed, some of them have given decades of serious and excellent service to local government. That probably applies to Members from all sides. They have been democratically elected time after time. It seems to me to be quite reasonable to suggest that, when they cease to be members of those bodies, they could come to this House.

My noble friend has been very generous in his amendment. He says that this provision should apply when people cease to be members of such bodies. I am afraid that I would have gone a good deal further and said that when they achieve seven years' service, even though they may continue to be members of such bodies, they may come here to give us the benefit of their wisdom and advice, derived from their membership of such democratically elected assemblies.

I could go on, but I shall resist the temptation to do so. In his amendments, I believe that my noble friend has actually lighted on a way which may help the Government to bring to this Chamber people who have democratic credibility and legitimacy and who come from a background of other democratically elected bodies in our country. Indeed, I think it is right to give some presence to those bodies in your Lordships' House as a revising Chamber. I certainly know that in any

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discussion about local government, those of your Lordships who serve or have served in local government, as I did a long time ago, bring a good deal of knowledge to the debates; indeed, much more knowledge than people who have had no experience of local government.

Moreover, the same could be true of Members of the European Parliament. I think ex-Members of the European Parliament bring much wisdom and knowledge to your Lordships' House when matters European are discussed. I think my noble friend Lord Clanwilliam has a good point. I look forward to the Minister giving a sympathetic answer.

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