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Baroness Jay of Paddington: It would not be a simple semantic matter of changing the wording of the Bill. As my noble and learned friend took some trouble to explain--although noble Lords have suggested that he did not--the terminology of the Bill was crafted in the way that it was and written in the way that it is in order to embrace the widest possible concept of the membership of your Lordships' House. I cannot recall whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, was present at the time when this matter was discussed on Tuesday--

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I was present.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I apologise to the noble and learned Lord. I said that I could not remember. I am

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sure that noble Lords will remember that we then discussed at some length whether it was possible to define the membership of the House of Lords, the membership of the House of Commons or the membership of the Welsh Assembly. My noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn, who was replying to those points on another amendment, said that he was quite sure that it would be impossible to find judicial agreement on how that membership should be understood; nevertheless, it was perfectly legitimate to describe. It could, as we have discussed several times, be understood by anybody with common sense and even, as he said, by the judges. So I think we really must accept that the Government have taken appropriate legal advice on this matter and this is how it has been decided to formulate the Bill.

Perhaps I may move on and try to be a little more precise about exactly what Clause 1 does. It removes the totality of the rights and duties which members of the hereditary peerage have in their capacity as Members of your Lordships' House. It removes the right to sit and vote in the House of Lords and in any of its committees, to speak in the House or to receive a Writ of Summons. It removes ancillary rights and any other rights which are connected with membership of the House. The clause will also deprive hereditary Peers of those privileges of membership of the House which we call "club rights".

Now I must emphasise--I hope it does not sound too bald: it is certainly said only to achieve clarity and not in any way to be aggressive--that the privileges that are allowed to Members by virtue of their membership of the House of Lords, as far as concerns club rights, will be removed. Sadly, the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, is not in his place. Perhaps I may quote the words of his grandfather, the then Marquess of Salisbury, who said in your Lordships' debates on the Life Peerages Bill:


    "This House is not a club; it is a place of legislation".--[Official Report, 17/12/57; col. 1231.] I think we all agree on that; at least I hope we do.

Your Lordships are here to do a job of work. The facilities are provided to assist Members in fulfilling their functions. It would not be right to insist that hereditary Peers who no longer have any function in the House should still have the right to use those facilities provided by the taxpayer to support the work of Parliament.

Lord Trefgarne: Perhaps I may ask the noble Baroness a question which arises out of that. Earlier today we debated the amendment of my noble friend Lord Marlesford about the position of Privy Counsellors. At present Privy Counsellors who are Members of the other place may sit on the steps of the Throne. What will be the position of the Privy Counsellors in this House who are hereditary Peers and are to leave?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: In responding to the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, I said that in our view it was not appropriate that Privy Counsellors should remain as

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hereditary Peers but that they are, as I said earlier in response to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, eligible for life peerages.

Lord Trefgarne: Will those without life peerages be allowed to sit on the steps of the Throne?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I was going on to say--unfortunately, the noble Lord intervened once again--that this statute is not the appropriate place in which to discuss matters of that kind. Just as with the question of former Members of the other place visiting the House of Commons, that would be a matter for the administration of the House. If, once the Bill goes through, the House of Lords decided that as a concession it would extend the use of its facilities to non-Members or former Members, that would be a matter for the House. But it is not a matter for this statute.

Earl Ferrers: This is an important point. The noble Baroness said that hereditary Peers will not be allowed access to the House as a result of the Bill, yet the question of whether Privy Counsellors are permitted to sit on the steps of the Throne will be a matter for the administration of the House. If the Bill removes hereditary Peers who are Privy Counsellors, why is it that the administration of the House is required to decide whether they should be allowed back in again?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I am obviously not being sufficiently clear. Perhaps it is because I am becoming confused by the different points which are being made to me. I shall try to explain. I was asked about arrangements for former Members of the House, whether they be Privy Counsellors or hereditary Peers who are not Privy Counsellors, to have access to the facilities of the House or to sit on the steps of the Throne, or indeed to have a cup of tea or go into the Library. That access will of course be removed directly by virtue of the removal of their membership through this statute. But the arrangements for former Members might indeed become a matter on which concessions were granted, by, for example, the Committee for Privileges or the Procedure Committee, in the same way that they have been in another place where, if I may explain what I understand the position to be, former Members of the other place who have served for more than 15 years receive a particular type of pass to the Palace of Westminster which lets them have access to some of the refreshment and other facilities but not necessarily to all of them. Those facilities are determined administratively by the authorities of that House. That is the consistent pattern that your Lordships could adopt in circumstances where hereditary Peers as a group were excluded from membership of this House. I hope that is clear. If it is not, I am happy to respond to further questions.

Earl Ferrers: I think it is clear; but it is not equitable. The noble Baroness is saying that, by statute, hereditary Peers should not enter the House, and hereditary Peers who are Privy Counsellors should not enter the House; but

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it then remains up to the administration of the House as to whether the statute should be overridden and they can be brought back in. Is that correct?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: It is perhaps most simply expressed by saying that they will not have the right but it could be accepted by the administration of the House--the Privileges Committee or the Procedure Committee, whichever is appropriate--that a concession might be made if that were the will of the House. But that is not to say that their rights to membership of this House will not have been removed by this Bill. Perhaps I may--

The Earl of Northesk: On a related point, will the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal concede that the Bill does nothing in regard to what she has termed the ancillary rights of the Irish peerage?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I thought I had made the matter clear earlier in my remarks. Perhaps the noble Earl was not present at that time. I listed the numbers of all hereditary Peers who were excluded for the benefit of those Members of the Committee who, by virtue of the amendments they have produced, seem to think that various types of exclusion are possible. Perhaps the noble Earl will read the official record tomorrow. If he has a further query, perhaps he will write to me.

The Earl of Northesk: I simply make the point because the rights of the Irish peerage do not arise out of membership of this House in the terms in which the Government have presented it.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: I invite the noble Earl to read the official record.

Lord Strabolgi: Perhaps I may intervene. As a member of the Privileges Committee, I sat on the Farnham case when it came before the committee. The Irish peerage had the right, before 1920, to elect a certain number to attend the House. After 1920, those who had been elected were allowed to remain for the rest of their lives. They had all died by a certain date, after which no Irish Peer had any rights here at all.

Lord Henley: As an Irish Peer, perhaps I may intervene to make just one point. One right of Irish Peers survived; namely, the right, as with Privy Counsellors, to sit on the steps of the Throne, and to do no more than that. I point out to the noble Baroness the Leader of the House that, when our rights are abolished and we all go, it seems that my noble friend Lord Northesk and myself, as Irish Peers, will continue to be allowed to sit on the steps of the Throne, but my other noble friends will be out completely. I offer that as an explanation to assist the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi.

Lord Strabolgi: The noble Lord, Lord Henley, does not sit in this House as an Irish Peer. He sits here under an English title.


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