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Lord Randall of St. Budeaux: That is the balance of argument between removing a large membership of this House instantaneously and having some other arrangement. That is the balance which must be struck. I have covered the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, in some of my other answers and I thank the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, for his kind comment. The balance is very important.

Lord Elton: Before the noble Lord sits down, I should not like him to withdraw his amendment without realising that the work he has done on it is greatly appreciated by Members of the Committee, even though it has not been successful. It has been done with great courage because any deviation from strict protocol is obviously not welcome on his Front Bench. On this occasion, when they are anxious to move on fast, one wonders whether one hears the grinding of teeth from in front of him. He has shown great courage.

I say to my noble friend Lord Ferrers that the system is not that complicated. A minority government is being given 1.7 votes per Member and one defector is worth 1.7 defections. That seems to me to provide a certain amount of equity. I do not want to hold things up, merely to say that the noble Lord has done a good job and I hope that he will not abandon it half-way through.

Lord Randall of St. Budeaux: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for those kind words. Perhaps I may say that there has been no grinding of teeth. The Chief Whip has been marvellous to me; he has not raised the issue and has been very kind. I am an ultra Blair moderniser in a House which may be having difficulty. Change is complicated and never as simple as one wishes. I believe that the benefits which can accrue from

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going down this route are worthwhile and therefore it is my intention to bring an amendment before the House at Report stage. Accordingly, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 5 [Interpretation and short title]:

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Lyell): I must advise the Committee that if Amendment No. 136 is agreed to I shall not be able to call Amendments Nos. 137 to 139C inclusive.

The Earl of Northesk moved Amendment No. 136:

Page 2, line 4, leave out subsection (1)

The noble Earl said: In addressing Amendment No. 136, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 139 to 139C.

Lord Strathclyde: I am sorry to interrupt my noble friend. I see from the groupings list that Amendment No. 137, which stands in my name, has been included. It deals with a different point and therefore we shall be removing it from the grouping and speaking to it separately.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: I am sorry to say that the same applies to Amendment No. 138, which also deals with a slightly different aspect.

The Earl of Northesk: The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor is adamant that Clause 1 is wholly effective. Therefore, the purpose of the amendments is to attempt to tease out why the Government have felt it necessary to specify in the Bill any, let alone only two, of the dignities of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales on the face of the Bill. It seems to me that that creates unnecessary confusion and obscures the Government's attempts to achieve exquisite simplicity.

My preference would be the solution offered by Amendment No. 136, but the fundamental point remains. If the Bill is as watertight as the noble and learned Lord maintains, surely there is no need to make any reference to any individual titles or dignities, to whomsoever they may belong. I beg to move.

Lord Trefgarne: I wish to speak in support of my noble friend Lord Northesk and to Amendments Nos. 139 to 139C. The Government propose, as the Explanatory Memorandum makes clear, that the Royal Members of this House shall cease to be Members of this House in the same way as the other hereditary Peers. Indeed, two of the Royal titles are referred to in the Bill. However, I am not certain or clear that the Government have got it quite right. For example, as suggested in Amendment No. 139, the Dukedom of Cornwall and the Dukedom of Rothesay, both held by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, may not be hereditary peerages. Indeed, in the view of some experts they are most certainly not. For example, if His Royal Highness were to die in the lifetime of his mother his title would not necessarily descend to His Royal

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Highness Prince William. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has thought this matter through and will be able to reassure us.

Similar considerations apply with regard to the Dukedom of Rothesay. I understand that it was conferred on the original holders in the 14th century and that it is roughly equivalent to the Dukedom of Cornwall. However, there is doubt about it because the Letters Patent have been lost. No doubt the researches of the noble Lord, Lord Williams, have clarified this matter and I look forward to hearing his reply in that regard. Can he also deal with the Barony of Renfrew, the Earldom of Carrick and the so-called Lordship of the Isles that are referred to in my subsequent amendments, which are also held by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

Lord Gray: I do not presume to know whether or not the Dukedom of Rothesay was a hereditary title, but it may be of historical interest that it once had an indirect effect upon your Lordships' House because the future King George II, when he was Duke of Rothesay, voted twice in elections for representative Peers for Scotland, and, again the future George IV similarly voted in nine elections between 1787 and 1807. Whether it is a hereditary peerage or not, it obviously held rights with regard to your Lordships' House and membership of your Lordships' House.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am most grateful for the courteous way in which the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, invited me to deal with his specific points, and to the noble Earl, Lord Northesk's, reference to a potential problem.

I am only dealing, because of the requests made, with Amendments Nos.136, 139, 139A, 139B and 139C.

As regards Amendment No. 136, the root of the problem is that there is some uncertainty as to whether the Principality of Wales and the Earldom of Chester are hereditary peerages. We wanted to make the position clear, and that is why those two hereditary peerages that are presently occupied by the Prince of Wales are specified.

Lord Trefgarne: Did the noble Lord say that the Principality of Wales is a hereditary peerage?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: There is some uncertainty as to whether the Principality of Wales and the Earldom of Chester are hereditary peerages. That is why I should like to remove the ambiguity.

The same point is raised in Amendments Nos. 139 and those following. The same authorities which raised questions as to the Principality of Wales and the Earldom of Chester are unanimous that the Dukedom of Cornwall, the Dukedom of Rothesay, the Earldom of Carrick and the Lordship of the Isles are to be counted as hereditary, and that is why they do not need to be specifically dealt with. The Barony of Renfrew is not a peerage dignity at all; it is a feudal or minor barony of Scotland. That is why the Bill is drafted in this way.

Lord Trefgarne: I am troubled by the noble Lord's reply in respect of the Dukedom of Cornwall. I am told

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that it is held by respectable opinion not to be a hereditary peerage for the reasons to which I have referred, among others. I accept that there is less certainty about the Dukedom of Rothesay.

However, the noble Lord has said his piece. He has access to at least as good professional advice as the rest of us and I do not propose to pursue that point and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Strathclyde moved Amendment No. 137:

Page 2, line 4, after ("peerage"")


("means members of the peerages of Scotland, England, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom other than those created under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 or the Life Peerages Act 1958, and")

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No.137 which concerns a rather different point. The Bill presents a very odd state of affairs in which the targets of the Bill--hereditary Peers--are not defined. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor when pressed on the Lofthouse amendment, said that the man in the street would know a Lord when he saw one. I have not always noticed that, and in any event this is not a safe case for legislation.

Time and again during the passage of the Bill doubt has crept in, although during the debate on the last amendment the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, went out of his way to explain why he was taking certain actions in order to remove doubt. That is what the amendment is proposing. What could be an easier way of dispelling doubt but to include that bog-standard element of any Bill, the definition? The amendment provides such a definition and therefore should be more helpful to the Government in the face of any real challenge than the obiter dicta of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor.

I wonder whether the Government will find something attractive in the amendment. I think it would remove some of the doubt hanging over the Bill. If they cannot accept it, perhaps they can explain why. I beg to move.

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