The Committee considered new standing orders
and other proposals to give effect to the "Weatherill amendment"
to the House of Lords Bill. Under this amendment, which is now
in the bill as clause 2, 92 hereditary peers will retain their
rights to sit and vote in the House of Lords after the end of
the present session of Parliament. The government will be tabling
for the third reading of the Bill amendments to provide for by-elections
to fill vacancies among 90 of the 92 peers excepted from clause
1 of the bill (the two others being excepted by virtue of holding
the office of Earl Marshal or Lord Great Chamberlain).
The Committee agreed to the following standing orders to give
effect to these amendments.
(1) In implementation of section 2 of the
House of Lords Act 1999, this Standing Order makes provision for
hereditary peers who are excepted from section 1.
(2) The excepted hereditary peers shall consist
of the following categories:
(a) 2 peers elected by the Labour hereditary peers;
(b) 42 peers elected by the Conservative hereditary peers;
(c) 3 peers elected by the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers;
(d) 28 peers elected by the Cross-bench hereditary peers;
(ii) 15 peers, elected by the whole House, from
among those ready to serve as Deputy Speakers or in any other
office as the House may require; and
(iii) any peer holding the office of Earl Marshal
or performing the office of Lord Great Chamberlain.
(3) Elections shall be conducted in accordance
with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments.
(4) In order to stand for election or qualify
as an elector under paragraph (2)(i), a peer must register with
the Clerk of the Parliaments, identifying the party or Cross-bench
group to which he belongs. In order to stand for election under
paragraph (2)(ii), a peer must register separately with the Clerk
of the Parliaments. A peer may not stand for election nor vote
if he has not taken the Oath or is on Leave of Absence.
(5) In the event of a tie between two or more
candidates standing in any of the elections held in accordance
with paragraph (2), the matter (if not resolved by the electoral
arrangements adopted by the House) shall be decided by the drawing
(6) The Clerk of the Parliaments may refer any
question concerning the propriety of the electoral process to
the Committee for Privileges.
(7) In the event of a vacancy occurring at any
time up to the end of the initial period through death among the
peers elected in category (2)(i) or (2)(ii), the vacancy shall
be filled by the nearest runner-up in the relevant election under
paragraph (2) who both wishes to fill the vacancy and is otherwise
available. The provisions of paragraph (5) are applicable for
this purpose. If no such runner-up is available, the House shall
decide how the vacancy shall be filled.
(8) In this Standing Order and in Standing Order
(Hereditary Peers: By-elections) the end of the "initial
period" is the end of the first session of the next Parliament
after that in which the House of Lords Act 1999 is passed."
"Hereditary Peers: By-elections
(1) In implementation of subsection (4) of section
2 of the House of Lords Act 1999, this Standing Order makes provision
for by-elections to fill vacancies occurring by death among excepted
hereditary peers after the end of the initial period.
(2) In the event of the death of a hereditary
peer excepted under Standing Order (Hereditary Peers)(2)(i)
only the excepted hereditary peers in the group in which the vacancy
has occurred shall be entitled to vote.
(3) In the event of the death of a hereditary
peer excepted under Standing Order (Hereditary Peers)(2)(ii)
the whole House shall be entitled to vote.
(4) The provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3)
shall apply also in the case of any subsequent by-elections.
(5) The Clerk of the Parliaments shall maintain,
and publish annually, a register of hereditary peers (other than
peers of Ireland) who wish to stand in any by-election.
(6) By-elections shall be conducted in accordance
with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments and shall
take place within three months of a vacancy occurring.
(7) Paragraphs (5) and (6) of Standing Order
(Hereditary Peers) shall apply to by-elections under this
The Committee also agreed the following arrangements
for elections and by-elections.
(a) The Clerk of the Parliaments will be
the Returning Officer.
(b) Hereditary peers will be required to register,
if they wish to vote for the hereditary peers in the party groups.
The officers of each group will be entitled to examine the registers
to ensure that they are correct. If any peer who wishes to vote
is not on any party or Cross-bench list, the Clerk of the Parliaments
will consult the relevant group to ensure that no hereditary peer
is disenfranchised. The registers will be up-dated before by-elections
(c) Hereditary peers who wish to stand for election
in a particular group must register as candidates for that group.
Hereditary peers wishing to stand in the election for Deputy Speakers
and other offices must also register for such election. Any hereditary
peer may stand in either, or both, elections.
(d) Peers who have not taken the Oath or who
are on Leave of Absence shall not be qualified to stand or vote
in any of the initial elections. All peers, including those on
Leave of Absence and those who have not taken the Oath, will receive
a House of Lords notice about arrangements for the elections not
less than 6 weeks before the intended date of the elections. This
will make clear to those who wish to vote, or stand for election,
that they must, if necessary, terminate their Leave of Absence
and take the Oath. This requirement will not apply in the case
of candidates in by-elections.
(e) The election for Deputy Speakers and other
office holders will be held before the party elections. So far
as by-elections are concerned, paragraph (3) of the by-election
Standing Order provides that voting for a candidate to take the
place of any hereditary peer elected as a Deputy Speaker will
be by the whole House. Any peer elected at a by-election will,
however, not be expected to serve as a Deputy Speaker.
(f) The initial elections will take place in
the forthcoming "spill-over".
(g) Peers will be invited to register in person
or by post or fax during a period of two weeks, one of which may
be the last week of the summer recess and the other the first
week of the "spill-over". Telephone registration will
not be allowed because it could result in error or omission. Registration
by e-mail will not be allowed because of the problem of authentication.
(h) On the Monday of the week following the period
of registration a list of candidates will be issued for the elections
for the Deputy Speakers and other office holders. In view of the
large numbers likely to vote and in order to ensure that as many
who wish to vote can do so, the election will be held over two
days (probably Wednesday and Thursday) and between such hours
as will best suit the convenience of peers. Ample notice will
be given of the dates and times. Peers will vote in person in
a Committee Room designated for this purpose. The result of this
election will be reported in accordance with sub-paragraph (o)
below on the next sitting day.
(i) A list of candidates will then immediately
be issued for the party elections, eliminating the names of any
peers who were successful in the earlier election. Voting will
take place in a Committee Room designated for this purpose, possibly
over two days, but the numbers voting will be smaller since only
hereditary peers will be voting. Again, the date and times will
be announced well in advance.
(j) No candidate will be allowed to indicate
on the ballot paper (including the ballot paper for Deputy Speakers
and other office holders) any qualification or reason why he or
she should be elected. The Clerk of the Parliaments will however
facilitate the publication, in a form yet to be decided, of a
separate paper giving electors information about each candidate.
(k) Postal voting will be allowed only where
the Clerk of Parliaments receives a doctor's note to say that
a peer is unable, for medical or incapacity reasons, to travel.
Since voting in these elections will be parliamentary business,
peers will be entitled to claim reimbursement of their travel
and subsistence expenses.
(l) The electoral system will be as follows.
The ballot papers for the party elections will be printed with
the names of all the candidates for the relevant party/group,
and voters will be required to vote for the total number of vacancies
for that party/group in order of preference, marking against each
name the figure 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. The figure 1 will indicate a first
preference, the figure 2 a second preference and so on. It must
be stressed that a voter will be required to vote for exactly
the number of vacancies in the relevant party or group; failure
to do so will result in the ballot paper being spoilt and not
taken into account when the votes are totalled. So if there are
28 vacancies, voters must place the figures 1, 2, 3 up to 28 against
28 names and not more or less than 28 names.
In the initial count, every vote will have equal
weight and the candidates who receive the largest number of votes
will be elected to the relevant vacancies. In the event of a tie,
the number of first preferences received by a candidate will be
taken into account, so that the candidate with the higher number
of first preferences would be elected. If this does not resolve
the tie, second preferences will be taken into account, and, if
necessary, third preferences and so on. In the unlikely event
that this did not resolve the tie, lots could be drawn.
(m) The ballot papers for the Deputy Speakers'
etc election will be printed with the names of all registered
candidates, and voters will be asked to number the candidates
of their choice as above.
(n) The count will be undertaken by staff of
the Parliament Office under the supervision of nominees from each
of the parties (including the Cross-Benches). The voting papers
will not be made public.
(o) The results of the elections will be reported
to the House by the Clerk of the Parliaments. The number of votes
cast for the various candidates, including the votes for unsuccessful
candidates, will be published in this report. The names of the
successful candidates will also be recorded in the Minutes of
the House and in the Clerk of the Parliaments' certificate to
the Clerk of the Crown.
(p) The Clerk of the Parliaments will, after
consulting the party Leaders and whips and the Convenor of the
Cross-benchers, issue a code of conduct for candidates and voters
in the elections.
If the Clerk of the Parliaments suspects, on reasonable
grounds, that some material irregularity or improper conduct may
have occurred in the electoral process, he may refer the matter
to the Committee for Privileges for investigation.
(q) The ballot papers and overall votes recorded
for each hereditary peer will be retained by the Clerk of the
Parliaments for the purpose of deciding how subsequent vacancies
occurring in the 90 hereditary peers are filled. When subsection
(by elections) of Clause 2 of the House of Lords Bill becomes
effective this provision will become redundant.
To help the House to understand more fully the
arguments used in the Committee to reach these conclusions, a
transcript of the Committee's proceedings is appended to this