Select Committee on Procedure of the House Third Report


Proceedings of the Committee Relating to the Report

TUESDAY 6 JULY 1999

Present:


B. Anelay of St Johns B. Jay of Paddington
L. Boston of FavershamB. Lockwood
      (Chairman) L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish
L. BurlisonL. Rodgers of Quarry Bank
L. BurnhamE. Shannon
L. CarterL. Skelmersdale
L. DenhamL. Strabolgi
E. FerrersL. Strathclyde
L. Gladwin of CleeL. Weatherill
B. Gould of PotternewtonL. Williams of Mostyn
B. HamweeB. Young
L. Harris of Greenwich
L. Henley
L. Irvine of Lairg (Lord Chancellor)
     
Bledisloe, V.
Chalfont, L.







with the Clerk of the Parliaments.

  The Chairman informed the Committee that he had invited L. Chalfont and V. Bledisloe to the meeting to speak to the memorandum and letter they had submitted. He had also invited other Lords who had written to him on the matter of the Weatherill amendment to attend the meeting. The Committee agreed to the attendance of these peers.

  It was moved by the Earl Ferrers that representatives of Wall to Wall television be admitted to the Committee's meeting.

  The Committee deliberated.

  On Question, the Committee divided


Contents 8Not Contents 15
          
L. DenhamB. Anelay of St. Johns
E. FerrersL. Burlison
B. HamweeL. Burnham
L. Harris of GreenwichL. Carter
L. HenleyL. Gladwin of Clee
L. Mackay of ArdbrecknishB. Gould of Potternewton
L. Rodgers of Quarry BankL. Irvine of Lairg (Lord Chancellor)
L. WeatherillB. Jay of Paddington
B. Lockwood
L. Shannon
L. Skelmersdale
L. Strabolgi
L. Strathclyde
L. Williams of Mostyn
B. Young



  The Committee deliberated on a memorandum by the Clerk of the Parliaments and a memorandum and letter by L. Chalfont, V. Bledisloe and others.

  On Question that, as proposed in the memorandum by L. Chalfont, V. Bledisloe and others, Life Peers should in addition to hereditary Peers vote in all the elections to be held under the Weatherill amendment,

  The Committee divided


Contents 4Not Contents 18
          
B. HamweeB. Anelay of St. Johns
L. Harris of GreenwichL. Burlison
L. Rodgers of Quarry BankL. Carter
E. ShannonL. Denham
E. Ferrers
L. Gladwin of Clee
B. Gould of Potternewton
L. Henley
L. Irvine of Lairg (Lord Chancellor)
B. Jay of Paddington
B. Lockwood
L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish
L. Skelmersdale
L. Strabolgi
L. Strathclyde
L. Weatherill
L. Williams of Mostyn
B. Young




  The Committee agreed new Standing Orders on hereditary peers' elections and by-elections and proposals for electoral arrangements to give effect to the new Standing Orders.

  Ordered, That the Minutes of Evidence and other proceedings of the Committee be published together with the Committee's report—(The Chairman of Committees).

  The Committee adjourned.

TUESDAY 6 JULY 1999



Present:



Anelay of St Johns, B.Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Boston of Faversham, L.Jay of Paddington, B.
     (Chairman) Lockwood, B.
Burlison, L.Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Burnham, L.Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Carter, L.Shannon, E.
Denham, L.Skelmersdale, L.
Ferrers, E.Strabolgi, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.Strathclyde, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.Weatherill, L.
Hamwee, B.Williams of Mostyn, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.Young, B.
Henley, L.




The Clerk of the Parliaments, in attendance.

  Chairman: We proceed to the Clerk of the Parliaments' memorandum and I will ask him to introduce it.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Thank you, my Lord Chairman. I do not intend to say very much about this paper because it was, in fact, available in roughly this form from the beginning of April. So Members of the House have had the paper available to them for over three months. Its origins were in a group that became universally known as the "O Group" which was chaired by a Cabinet Office official and included representatives of all the four sections of the House. The original draft emanated from that group. May I draw attention to two matters where there is a change from the paper that was put in the Library of the House before the Easter Recess. The first is that I have excluded now quite a long paragraph which was arguing the case for the use of standing orders rather than putting the provision on the face of the Bill. I believe that situation is now accepted by the House. The second is that there is now a second standing order incorporated in the paper which was not there when the paper was first made available to the House and that is the one which provides for by-elections. This follows the commitment made by the Lord Chancellor that in the event of vacancies occurring after the end of the first session of the next Parliament, the House should be able to hold by-elections among the hereditary peers to fill those vacancies. There is one further matter of detail which I will mention at this stage, although I know that Lord Strabolgi will refer to it in due course. There is some concern among those who currently are Deputy Speakers that when the elections for those 15 posts are held there should be some form of identification for the current holders of these posts. I just raise this as a potential problem. The solution depends on what Members of the House think would be appropriate. I think I will leave the matter at that point and I will answer any questions that arise during the course of discussions.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. I am happy for either Lord Chalfont or Lord Bledisloe to come in at this point, I do not mind the order.

  Lord Chalfont: My Lord Chairman, we have discussed that between us and I would like, if I may, to make a few preliminary remarks and then hand over to Lord Bledisloe.

  Chairman: Please, Lord Chalfont.

  Lord Chalfont: My Lord Chairman, if it is acceptable to you I will first of all say how appreciative we are of the opportunity to appear before this Committee and to underline, perhaps isolate, some of the arguments that we have made in the papers which we have submitted to you for consideration by this Committee. Perhaps a word of background. This really all springs from the establishment by the Cross Benches of a small committee which I was asked to chair to look at the implications of this move almost as soon as we became aware of the Government's intentions in this respect. That small committee of nine cross-bench peers was formed. As I say, I was asked to chair it and Lord Bledisloe was a member of it and there were other members as well. Arising out of the deliberations of that committee we have sent to you two papers which we hoped the Procedure Committee would consider. One was on the question of the electorate of what I think has now come to be called the "Weatherill peers" and should they be elected by the whole House or should they be elected only by other hereditary peers. We sent you a paper on that subject, and a second paper on the impact which the various decisions and discussions and debates about by-elections might have on the whole of Clause 2 and the whole of the procedure surrounding the Bill. I should emphasise at this stage, although I hardly need to before this Committee, that any opinions we have expressed in these papers can only be the opinions of those who have signed them. That means that in the case of the first paper, which was the paper on the electorate, there were nine cross-bench peers who agreed the terms of that paper before it came to you. On the second paper, which was the one dealing with the by-elections, by that time things were moving so fast that only Lord Bledisloe and myself had time to consider and to conclude a paper which was suitable for presentation to you. I should however say that there is very good reason to believe that there is substantial cross-bench support, more than substantial I think, strong cross-bench support for the conclusion of our first paper which is that the electorate should consist of life and hereditary peers and not hereditary peers only. The first paper, as I say, was one which advocated that position—that life and hereditary peers should elect the Weatherill peers—and we set out in that paper some of the reasons for arriving at that conclusion at considerable length. I may say at this stage that it was written on the assumption that all the other provisions of the draft standing orders had been accepted and I think, as I say, it will be appropriate that Lord Bledisloe who has been responsible for most of the drafting of these papers should give to your Lordships some of the reasons, some of the technicalities, legal and otherwise, that lie behind this. The second paper was, as I say, on the impact of the decision to top up by by-election, especially the very strange impact that that would have on the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties because of the strength of their hereditary peerage and I would ask Lord Bledisloe also to elaborate on that. My Lord Chairman, with that brief introduction and with your leave and that of the Committee I will ask Lord Bledisloe to elaborate on the two papers which have been submitted to you.

  Viscount Bledisloe: Thank you, my Lord Chairman. Principally our submissions relate to who should form the electorate. We have a few points on the system of voting which are inter-related. My Lord, these are all made in papers before you and, if I may, I shall try to speak very briefly on each chapter heading with a willingness to answer questions if any of those chapter headings are not clear. Our thesis is, as Lord Chalfont has said, that for the election from each party or group the electorate should consist of all the hereditary life peers in that party group and we advance the following reasons for this. First of all, that an electorate which includes the life peers in each party or group will be both better informed and more dispassionate and should therefore be better placed to select those who are most suited to make in the future an admirable contribution to the work of the House, which must presumably be the aim of this election. If I can just very briefly mention some figures which are in the paper we have put before you at paragraph 4.5. They relate to Cross-Benchers because we have those details. I am sure very similar figures will apply to the Conservative party. If, my Lord, one takes an attendance of a mere 15 per cent of the sessions as the minimum which should be necessary to enable one to make any form of informed judgment, unless one is perhaps an avid reader of Hansard daily, there are in the Cross-Benchers 85 hereditaries who beat that 15 per cent level. It is calculated that of those about 55 would be candidates on which basis, if only the hereditary peers can vote, there are only 30 people who will be both knowledgeable and have no interest in the outcome. On the other hand, if you include the life peers that figure of 30 arrives to 88 people who both have enough experience of the House to make an informed judgment and have no interest in the outcome which might affect, or be seen to affect, the way in which they vote. Our second point is that if, as is proposed, the 15 peers are to be elected by the whole House, including the life peers, there can be no justification for excluding those same life peers from the other vote. If the life peers are needed to decide who are the most apt people to fulfil the officer roles they are also the most apt people to decide who would make the greatest contribution under the other head. My Lord, the third, and perhaps very important, point is that an electorate which includes the life peers will present a very much better public appearance and thus be more acceptable to the House of Commons and to the general public and in particular to those who do not look with particular favour on the Weatherill amendment. My Lord, this seems to be a very important point in relation to having informed voters who are not themselves candidates. Fourthly, and we would suggest that this is obviously a matter of speculation, if one ignores any commitment to any prior agreement, on which I think Lord Chalfont may say a word, the suggestion we propose is we suspect greatly more popular with the majority of the House. There are a large number of Conservative backbenchers who have indicated their support for it. I imagine that the Liberal Democrats prefer it. As Lord Chalfont has said, the great majority of Cross-Benchers seem to favour it and it should be something which should appeal rather more to the Labour Party than the other. My Lord, against our thesis it is suggested that the Weatherill 75, if I may so describe them, are meant to be representative of the hereditary peerage but that, we would say, is both unjustified and constitutionally improper. It is unjustified because once this Bill is enacted the hereditary peerage has a special interest which would justify special representation at the rate of one to ten or every hereditary peer. My Lord, it is constitutionally improper. Those who favour this system have prayed in aid the Scottish precedent, the election of the Scottish peers, but, my Lords, Scottish peers who are entitled to vote in that were barred from either standing for or voting in elections in the House of Commons. By contrast those who voted for the peers who remain in this House are expressly in the Bill entitled to stand for and vote in elections in the House of Commons. That appears to contravene the very well established principle that no-one can vote for representation in both Houses of Parliament and, therefore, it is in our submission essential that these are not seen as representative peers. Then, my Lord, one comes to the new point that under the by-election system, if, as the Government has said and seems obviously right, the by-electors are the people who are still currently in the House, that just does not work in relation to the Labour and Liberal Parties as Lord Goodhart made plain in the House. If one Labour representative dies there is only one Labour representative to choose as successor and if in the unfortunate situation he is incapacitated there is not even one. If one Liberal Democrat dies and the remaining two have different views nobody is ever appointed. My Lord, that is a system more rotten than any rotten borough ever was. In our submission the introduction of the by-election system has very strong consequences. If that has to be done by all the House or all the House in that group then surely that must apply to the initial election. There is also, my Lord, the point, and this swings to where we have to look into voting, that if there is a larger electorate, including the life peers, the difficulty in resolution of ties will largely disappear. If I may just switch to voting. At the moment there is on the table no rule as to what each candidate should do about voting for himself and presumably there will either be a rule or at least a clear convention that everybody must either vote for themselves as their first choice or not vote for themselves at all otherwise, my Lords, those with decency and self-effacement would be penalised in favour of those who are rather more self-assertive. It would appear that the most sensible solution would be that all candidates should be automatically deemed to vote for themselves as their first choice. My Lord, if that is done, and only the hereditaries are voting, then one cannot resolve ties by counting only the first votes cast for each candidate, which appears to be what is proposed in paragraph 5(k) by the Clerk of the Parliaments, albeit in the Order itself he says that ties shall be resolved by lot, but paragraph 5(k) of the memorandum suggests that it will be done by counting the first votes and no others.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Could I correct Lord Bledisloe on that. The version that I have in front of me—the one which was circulated to members of the Committee—says that second preference and third preference votes will also be taken into account.

  Viscount Bledisloe: That would assist on that point although one would still have the difficulty of the candidates putting themselves together. I am sorry but I had not received that latest version of the Clerk of the Parliament's memorandum.

  Chairman: Lord Bledisloe, I do not want to inhibit discussion in any way but I think that on the particular matter that we are considering, and bearing in mind we shall be considering the adoption or otherwise of standing order Number 1, I do not think I need trouble you to go into too much detail on this matter.

  Viscount Bledisloe: My Lord, I was only praying in aid that point as a reason why a wider electorate would solve that problem. My Lord, those are the points we would make as to why the electorate should include the life peers as well as the hereditaries.

  Chairman: Thank you very much.

  Lord Chalfont: My Lord Chairman, may I make one point in conclusion of our presentation to you. It is suggested often I know that what I think is generally called the Cranborne Agreement which led to the Weatherill Amendment may determine the issue of the electorate. It has been said that at the time when the result of the deal was made public it was said that the electorate would be hereditaries. So far as we can ascertain from looking at press releases and everything else germane to this issue, we think that was assumed rather than discussed or decided. I do not know because, of course, I was not a party to the deal and much has changed since that deal was made but I would make the point that in the view of my small committee the deal as it was made public does not pre-empt the decision as to whether the electorate is to be hereditaries only or whether both life and hereditaries.

  Chairman: On this particular matter, the Lord Chancellor wants to make a point.

  Lord Chancellor: On this narrow point only I should make it clear to the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that it was expressly agreed between myself and Lord Cranborne that the electoral range should be confined to the hereditaries of the relevant grouping and exclude the life peers. I am aware of the press release to which he refers. To the extent it gives a different impression, it was erroneous. There may have been a failure of communication but what was agreed between myself and Lord Cranborne is precisely as I have said.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. My Lords, as I have indicated, I propose that we take the two proposed new standing orders next but I know Lord Shannon wishes to make a procedural point.

  Earl of Shannon: I wonder if I may make a small suggestion that might be for the benefit of the Committee. It is a good management practice, I think, that one decides one's original objective before one starts to deal with subsidiary questions. It seems to me that we are being heavily lobbied for answers to subsidiary questions. Without wishing in any way to try and advocate either answer, could we not decide what we think the Weatherill Amendment means and then see whether the answers to the subsidiary questions will then fall into place. It appears that there are two different opinions about the Weatherill Amendment. One is that it is to continue representation of the hereditary peerage and the other one is that it is to provide a number of hereditary workers who will help to keep the business going. If we decide that we think that it is representation then I think that it is a usually accepted democratic principle that like must elect like. Once you get unlike starting to join in an election it becomes appointment not election. If, on the other hand, it is to appoint people to help to keep the business going then obviously those knowledgeable about the people standing in the election should be entitled to vote. It really is absolutely critical that we decide what we think the Weatherill Amendment means before we start answering any other subsidiary questions.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. My Lords, I am in your Lordships' hands obviously as to what course your Lordships wish to take on Lord Shannon's suggestion. I do not know whether I would be right in making this assumption but I would venture to suggest that neither those who would support the original proposal nor those who would support Lord Bledisloe's proposal is going for, if I can put it in that way, what has been called representation. If I am right in this assumption that we do not regard any part of your Lordships' House as representative in any sense, then I think that we can dispose of Lord Shannon's helpful suggestion in that way. Would I be right in assuming, my Lords, that we do not regard those proposals as involving the election of peers in a representative capacity. I think Lord Bledisloe wishes to say something.

  Viscount Bledisloe: Lord Cranborne's entire support or propounding of the proposition that only the hereditary peers should vote was founded solely on the proposition that they were meant to be representative peers. That was the entire argument advanced by Lord Cranborne and others when it was debated on recommittal. Representation appears to be the keystone of those who say only the hereditaries should vote.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: Can I say that we are in danger of being distracted by this very interesting point that Lord Shannon has introduced. Of course, the point is that we are not resting the proposals which are encapsulated in the example of the Clerk's memorandum on concerns about what was understood or not understood in a press release last December. This is based on the very detailed work of a working group on which all groups of the House were represented, as the Clerk of the Parliaments said in introduction, this so-called O Group, on which there were some reservations, for example the one that is now encapsulated in the amendment circulated around the table this afternoon. But this was a working group which worked through all these things and we are not relying on people's memories or understandings of what happened last December.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. Lord Skelmersdale?

  Lord Skelmersdale: My Lord Chairman, I was just going to support Lord Shannon because from what the Lord Chancellor has said he was one of the very few members of this Committee who was party to the original agreement and he has just said that he believed that the deal was for the election by hereditary peers of other hereditary peers, as I understood him. By definition then, they must be representative. If I have misunderstood perhaps he could tell me.

  Lord Chancellor: I think it is very important to understand, is it not, that agreements are to be construed according to their own terms as expressed regardless of what may have been in the innermost minds of the people who agreed them. Lord Cranborne could have one view, I could have another, but our private views are completely irrelevant. What we agreed was the that 75 were to be elected by the hereditary peers and I really think I have to say to explore the rather metaphysical questions of what might have been in our innermost minds is neither here nor there.

  Earl Ferrers: I was going to follow Lord Skelmersdale's point which is that the 75 might have been elected by the hereditary peers but having being elected by them it does not mean to say they represent them. Once they are elected they are here as Members of the House the same as everybody else, they are not representative of anyone.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. The Leader of the Opposition?

  Lord Strathclyde: My Lord Chairman, we have been sitting for almost an hour and we have not got very far and we could spend the rest of the evening discussing this matter of whether the elected peers are representatives or not. The word "representative" comes from Scottish peers, the system that was around in 1963. I do not think it is terribly relevant but what Lord Ferrers said is right, people have used it as a kind of shorthand without necessarily understanding exactly what that means. I do not think we should get ourselves bound up with that. What Lord Bledisloe proposes is a very simple alternative: either the full House votes for the 75 or it is just hereditary peers who vote, whether they are all representative or not does not seem to matter. It is that that we need to resolve here. I have to say, Lord Chairman, resolved here or not this is going to come back again on the floor of the House and no doubt in some detail and at some length. Again, I do not think we should spend too much time on this, we are going to be looking at it all over again in a couple of weeks' time. If I can just deal with the substantive point very, very briefly. There is, of course, a perfectly reasonable case to be made that it should be the whole House and Lord Bledisloe said it would be better, fairer, more popular, more acceptable to the House of Commons and to the public, and he is entitled to believe those things, but I do not think it is right. The main thrust of his argument is that the whole House would make a better decision but I do not think this is so. I think the hereditary peers can well be trusted to make their own decisions and even on his own figures of the Cross-Benchers, half the life peers are attenders and half are not, and they are in the same position as the non-attending hereditary peers; they would not have a clearer view as to whom they should vote for. I just think that it is unnecessary to include the life peers in the vote for the 75 when the hereditary peers themselves would be able to make their choice extremely well. If they do not make the choice extremely well then it would be their fault. I support what is in the Clerk's paper and I think that is the substantive issue and the sooner we get rid of it and deal with it the better.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. Lord Rodgers?

  Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lord Chairman, I take the starting point for our discussion, and I am sure you will correct me if I am wrong, is Clause 2 of the Bill as amended. What was in the mind of the Lord Chancellor and Lord Cranborne at some time is neither here nor there. Nor is it here nor there what they decided. It was for them a matter of concern in the House of Commons but for the rest of the House and this Committee it is a matter of judgment how now best to implement the decisions of the House in Clause 2. That is the starting point and that is the gist of our decision. Given our decision I think we all recognise the legitimacy of alternative points of view. Those views need not be clouded either by debate in the House or what may or may not have been agreed at some specific time by Members of your Lordships' House present or not present. That is the starting point. Given that starting point I do find, I have to say, the paper produced by the Cross-Bench peers very impressive. Certainly it raised a number of matters which had not previously crossed my mind although I and my colleagues had been clear from the beginning that we felt it was right that all peers should take part in this election and it should not be limited to hereditary peers. Looking at what I think is the crucial factor, if we are looking for the best who should stay on to serve this House, looking at a recent list of the voting habits, if I may put it that way, of the Cross-Bench peers not referred to by Lord Chalfont or Lord Bledisloe, I notice that of the Cross-Bench hereditary peers the attendance in this House was fewer than one day a week where the life peers attended half the sitting days. In other words, the attendance of the life peers does suggest to anybody who understands the way that this House works that they are more able to judge those men and women by common consent. whether it is through the Weatherill amendment or, as many of us would much prefer, by a route of making life peers, by whatever route, we will get better men and women if those who know the House and those who work here vote in the election. You have said, my Lord Chairman, and I think this is very important, that the hereditary peers will not be representative. I know we had some discussion on that but I take that to be the fact that they will not be representative and they are simply being elected, whether by a small or a larger electorate, for their qualities whatever they may be.

  Chairman: That is certainly what my view is, on the basis that we have never been a representative House in the sense that we have representatives here. Unless Lord Weatherill wishes to say something on Lord Shannon's point, perhaps I can just deal with his point.

  Lord Weatherill: Yes, Lord Chairman. I was present at most of the discussions, although not all of the discussions, with the Lord Chancellor and with Lord Cranborne. I am bound to say that it was my understanding that the arrangement was that the hereditary peers would elect hereditary peers. That was always my understanding. Of course, as your Lordships know, it was not possible to disclose any of this because it was all done on Privy Council terms and when we did publish this to the Cross-Benchers there was no doubt that the views expressed by Lord Chalfont and Lord Bledisloe were pre-eminent. Most of them felt that we had got it wrong. Nevertheless, I must make the point that at the time it was considered to be a very arrangement and the Lord Chancellor in his speech in the House said: "... the notion of the Weatherill amendment becoming a permanent settlement, as distinct from a compromise, is fanciful. ... It really is to stand logic and experience on its head to imagine that this Government, with their great popular majority and their manifesto pledge, would tolerate ten per cent of the hereditary peerage remaining for long." It was intended to be very . I think the problem arises only where there is a general feeling that this arrangement may last longer than the short-term, may last longer than originally intended. I think that is probably what concerns some of the Cross-Benchers.

  Chairman: Thank you very much, Lord Weatherill. Perhaps I can just deal with Lord Shannon's point. I am grateful to him, and it was clearly with the intention to help this Committee that he put that forward. I do not think that this Committee, however, wishes to proceed in quite that way. I now continue, we have already embarked upon it, on the general discussion on the proposed new standing order which is No.1 in the Clerk's memorandum, pages 4.2, and part of page five, and the main point is obviously concentrating on whether it is to be solely the hereditary peers or hereditary and life peers. If we can concentrate on that I think we can proceed with reasonable expedition.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Could we not make the decision? I think we all know perfectly well what our views are. As long as it is quite clear that we are not discussing the by-election issue.

  Chairman: Exactly. We will come to that quite separately next. I think there is no alternative, my Lords, but to take a roll call vote on this issue. I will just ask Lord Bledisloe or Lord Chalfont if they wish to say anything in conclusion?

  Viscount Bledisloe: May I just say one thing in answer to the Leader of the House. As I understand it, the drafting committee took it as their duty to say hereditaries only because that was what they understood the directive was from the agreement. Lady Jay is not right in saying that they have addressed their minds independently and come up with the conclusion de novo that that is the right solution.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: I am sorry if Lord Bledisloe thought that was what I was saying, perhaps I am not expressing myself clearly. What I meant was in the great detail of the ingenuous development of the argument that he made he certainly appeared to be drawing in support the press release from the Cross-Bench peers in December, whereas the umbrella of the understanding about hereditary peers was the context in which the O Group met.

  Lord Chancellor: What has been said is correct, the O Group's remit was to give effect to the agreement as made.

  Lord Chalfont: May I then ask for my own information whether it would be possible or conceivable that this Committee would allow the decision to be left to be taken by the whole House?

  Chairman: It will have to go before the whole House. I think it is for this Committee, Members will stop me if I am wrong, to make recommendations to the House but any recommendations which it decides to make today will have to go before the House for approval or otherwise.

  Lord Chalfont: I understand that. My question was rather more pointed than that. Would it be possible for this Committee not to make recommendations and let the House alone take the decision?

  Chairman: My sense is that individual Members of the Committee know their views and would wish to express them today by a roll call vote. If there is nothing else on this particular point I will ask the Clerk to take a roll call. I shall put the question in this way: That we adopt proposed standing order 1 as drafted in the Clerk's memorandum. That is the question for the Committee so that those who do not wish that and who wish to adopt the suggestions in Lord Bledisloe's paper would vote against the approval of the standing order.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: They could vote for leaving out the word "hereditary" in the standing order.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: There would have to be an amendment.

  Chairman: That is true, there would have to be an amendment for the addition of life peers. I can put it in that way, my Lords, if that would be more acceptable.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Would you clarify this. We are not really discussing standing order 1, are we, because that makes provision for hereditary peers to be accepted. We are not disputing that. Are we discussing 2(1) which is the numbers?

  Chairman: Just to make sure that we all have got it clear, my Lords, this proposal would be to leave out the word "hereditary" where it appears in the proposed standing order No 1, in paragraph 2(i)(a), (b), (c) and (d).

  Earl Ferrers: In other words, that is the equivalent of voting for the amendment.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: Why are we voting on the amendment rather than the proposal in the paper?

  Earl Ferrers: Do you not have to vote on the amendment first?

  Chairman: That was the proposal I put initially.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: Do not let us take time discussing this procedural matter.

  Chairman: I will put the question in this way, my Lords: That the proposal by Lord Bledisloe and Lord Chalfont that life peers be added to hereditary peers be agreed to. I will then proceed to the question of the draft standing order itself. I will ask the Clerk to take a roll call vote.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Which section of the draft standing order?

  Chairman: The question is that the Committee at this stage are invited to agree to Lord Bledisloe's proposal. (The Clerk proceeded to read the names and the Committee voted by roll call.) The vote is Contents, 4, Not Contents, 18. So the Not Contents have it. I am grateful for the useful discussion we have had on this matter.

  Lord Chalfont: May I thank you, my Lord Chairman, for inviting us to make this presentation. Obviously the vote has not gone terribly well for us but we have been most grateful to hear the discussion and we are grateful for the opportunity of appearing in front of this Committee. Thank you very much.

  Chairman: On behalf of the Committee I am very grateful indeed to Lord Chalfont and to Lord Bledisloe for the obviously enormous amount of work put into preparing their papers. My Lords, we now proceed to the question of the first new proposed standing order and I propose to put that to the Committee so that the question will be that this proposed standing order be agreed to.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Is this proposed standing order number 2?

  Chairman: We have been discussing the proposed new standing order on hereditary peers and a decision has been made not on the standing order but on the amendment by Lord Bledisloe, so what I am now putting is a substantive motion on the new standing order No 1 as drafted in the memorandum by the Clerk of the Parliaments, that is to say from sub-paragraph (1) to sub-paragraph (8) on page 4. It is the whole thing which I am putting to the Committee.

  Lord Skelmersdale: Chairman, before we do that

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Forgive me, my Lord Chairman. I thought we were only talking about paragraph 2 (1) which we discussed and made a decision on. You are not proposing to put the remaining paragraphs under 2 are you?

  Chairman: I was proposing to put the whole of the draft standing order No 1 on hereditary peers to the Committee now, the Committee having decided upon the proposed amendment based on Lord Bledisloe's proposal. That was what I was proposing to do. In other words if I can make it clear, under the heading hereditary peers from (1) that is to say page 3 from 4(1) over to page 4 to 4(8). That is the totality of the draft standing order which I call number 1. So that is the question which I am putting.

  Lord Strabolgi: This of course will not preclude any discussion on the quite different election of the 15 hereditary speakers.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: That is contained in the details of the electoral arrangements, paragraph 5 of my memorandum onwards.

  Chairman: Exactly. After your Lordships have disposed of this standing order I shall next be turning to the second proposed standing order. It is headed "Hereditary Peers: By-elections". After that I shall be dealing with the range of matters from paragraphs little (a) to (r) under the heading "Election arrangements".

  Lord Skelmersdale: Before we do that can I just ask for information whether 2 (ii) in the proposed standing order, namely the words "from among those ready to serve as Deputy Speakers or in any other office as the House may require" is synonymous with paragraph 2 (c) of the Clerk of the Parliaments' paper "the whole House will elect 15 hereditary peers ready to serve as Deputy Speakers or as Committee Chairmen", because there could be seen to be a difference.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: The draft standing order is what matters. The summary at the beginning was a mere attempt to summarise very shortly what was proposed. The operative language is in the proposed new standing order. It is meant to cover also those who are available to be Sub-Committee Chairman, people like Lord Colwyn, who is the Chairman of the Refreshment Sub-Committee, or Lord Cranbrook or Lord Grenfell or whoever else is Chairman of a Sub-Committee, in addition to those who are ready to serve as a Deputy Speaker in the House.

  Lord Skelmersdale: Thank you very much.

  Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I appreciate the by-election procedure will be a totally different matter, but could I refer to item (7) on page 4 and ask a question with regard to that. The fourth and fifth lines there refer to the runners up who would fill the vacancy if they wished to and if they are otherwise available. Can I ask whether that takes account of those hereditary peers who may subsequent to the passing of the Bill be awarded a life peerage and therefore in a sense already be here and be ineligible. Does that mean that the result of the by-election would mean that if the next person on the list to come on were a life peer by now, then the person below them would qualify to come on to the list and qualify. I do not know if I made that terribly clear.

  Chairman: Yes, perfectly clear. Clerk of the Parliaments?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: It is meant to cover that sort of situation, but it was more particularly aimed at a hereditary peer who may have been elected to the House of Commons and would therefore be disqualified for this House.

  Chairman: Well, if your Lordships are prepared to decide upon the first proposed new standing order, I will put that to the Committee. The question is that this draft standing order be agreed to. I am told, and I am happy to accept this, that we do not need a roll call vote: the question is that the new standing order on hereditary peers be agreed to. (Agreed) We now turn to page four and what I may call draft standing order number 2, that is the part in the Clerk of the Parliament's paper headed "Hereditary Peers: By-elections" and that goes down to (7) on page 5. I do not know whether there is anything the Clerk of the Parliaments wishes to add on this?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: No.

  Chairman: Then are there any points which your Lordships wish to make on this matter?

  Lord Denham: Can I mention a drafting amendment?

  Chairman: Yes, Lord Denham?

  Lord Denham: There appears earlier in the first standing order the provision that people who were eligible to sit as the chosen hereditary peers had to have a writ of summons and have taken the oath. Of course, with the by-elections neither of those things will happen because they will not have a writ of summons or have taken the oath. It is just a question of whether this is written in the right way to take account of that?

  Chairman: Clerk of the Parliaments?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Maybe it could be improved in that respect but I believe that the Clerk of the Parliaments of the day, and I suspect it will not be myself, will have to check very closely whether a peer who says he is a peer can prove that he is the proper heir to the peerage. Clearly he will not have taken the oath; that could not possibly apply there. It may be right that some provision—

  Lord Denham: Or have had a writ of summons. No, it is just a question of whether that is worded the right way to take account of that.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I think the Clerk of the Parliaments can keep a register, having satisfied himself that the peer who claims to be the heir to a peerage really is that. He may have to conduct some investigation, as the Crown Office currently does in order to issue a writ of summons.

  Lord Denham: Thank you very much.

  Lord Chancellor: As I understand it, today before a new hereditary peer takes his place the Clerk to the Crown in Chancery determines that he is entitled.

  Lord Denham: Right.

  Lord Chancellor: Plainly in the by-election situation, the Clerk to the Crown in Chancery would, if there were any issue, do exactly the same things as he does now in order to determine that a hereditary peer who has fallen heir to the title is truly entitled. It would simply be accelerating a procedure which is well established.

  Lord Denham: Thank you very much.

  Earl Ferrers: I am not so sure I am clear. I thought that what Lord Denham was saying was if there was what someone once described as a "dead Weatherill peer" and therefore you had to vote for another, the people voting would not be eligible to vote because they had not taken the oath. I thought that was the point. Therefore most people voting will not be entitled to vote under this because they have not taken the oath.

  Lord Chancellor: The only people who are entitled to vote are the excepted hereditary peers in each grouping who ex hypothesi are in the House already.

  Earl Ferrers: In the House already?

  Lord Chancellor: Yes. The only people who may vote in the by-election under this draft are the excepted hereditary peers within the House.

  Earl Ferrers: So you invite your own muckers in?

  Lord Chancellor: The noble Lord, Lord Denham's question was, I thought, a different one.

  Lord Denham: It was.

  Lord Chancellor: It was how do we know somebody who stands in a by-election is who he claims to be, namely entitled to inherit the peerage? The answer to that is that the same procedure as is applied by the Clerk to the Crown in Chancery today to determine that a hereditary peer who claims to have inherited has duly inherited obviously would equally have to be applied but at an earlier stage to determine that such a person was entitled to stand. He would not be entitled to stand unless, if he succeeded, he would be entitled to take up his place.

  Lord Denham: It was not quite my point but I am very grateful. My point really was whether having specified originally that one of the—what is the number?

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: 74.

  Lord Denham: To be one of those you had to have taken the oath and you had to have a writ of summons. I was worried whether paragraph (6) of the standing order we are now discussing needs to be amended to take account of the fact that of course no writ and no oath would be necessary for that. It is a purely drafting point. If you are happy with it, I am very happy.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I do not think paragraph (6) needs any change at all.

  Lord Denham: Okay.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: To answer Lord Ferrers' point, if you look at paragraph (2) of the standing order on hereditary peers' by-elections you will see that those entitled to vote are only the excepted hereditary peers in the relevant group.

  Earl Ferrers: Only those actually here could vote. Could it not be accused of being a self-perpetuating oligarchy, you ask your friends in?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Vote for your friends, not ask them!

  Lord Burnham: Lord Chairman, does that also apply for the 15?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: No, paragraph (3) of the standing order applies to the 15.

  Chairman: Thank you very much.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Could I return to what Lord Bledisloe raised some time ago, both about the Labour and Liberal Democrat hereditary peers. When one Weatherill Labour peer dies you then have an electoral college of one vote, that one person then has the power both to nominate and elect a Member of Parliament. Is this being seriously suggested?

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: We do not expect it seriously to arise as you will know, Lord Harris.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I know, but we are now providing in our standing orders for the election of Members of Parliament. I know what Ministers say about this legislation being produced early in the new Parliament; that is presumably because some Ministers have decided this, but as Ministers always say that they cannot disclose the content of a future Queen's Speech, we cannot necessarily accept that this legislation will appear in the first session of the new Parliament. The question therefore arises how is the question answered? An electoral college of one person to choose a Member of Parliament, a most unusual situation. We then have the position, as Lord Burnham rightly said, of the Liberal Democrats, there are two survivors, they disagree as to who the successor should be, perfectly reasonably, or maybe possibly unreasonably, what happens then? And who, in fact, validates this process? I can understand the position as far as Lord Bledisloe is concerned, I have to say I am rather unclear as far as the Conservative Party is concerned but as far as the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats this proposal makes no sense whatever.

  Lord Strathclyde: Chairman, there are several ways of skinning this cat but when we had a debate on the amendments on the floor of the House, the Lord Chancellor accepted it—very graciously if I may say so—on the basis that this was going to be the arrangement. Now I can understand why that causes potentially some trouble for the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats but we are forgetting that the number of those who will be elected within the parties will be two for the Labour Party and three for the Democrats but I fully expect in practice that some of the 15 will also come from the Liberal Democrats and from the Labour Party. They will also form part of the electorate because they will be accepted peers. So in practice there is every likelihood that although it will be a very small electorate, for both the Labour and the Democrats, there should be more of them than Lord Harris assumes.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: This assumes a Labour or Liberal Democrat peer is elected as a Deputy Chairman. There is no guarantee that will happen. What happens in the extreme circumstances where the two Labour hereditary peers get into a taxi and are involved in an accident. You do not have an electoral college at all in that situation? It does seem to me this is really quite an extraordinarily fanciful proposition to put before us. We are talking about Members of Parliament—

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: We are also talking about standing orders and for reasons we have discussed many times—and I do not think the Committee would wish to be wearied again by a rehearsal of the arguments about why this should not be in statute—the fact it is in standing orders of course creates a certain degree of flexibility which if any of these ludicrous fantasies of Lord Harris' were actually to come upon us—

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: It is not ludicrous to suggest that one hereditary peer may die. Unhappily standing orders do not provide for giving Labour hereditary peers the power to remain with us forever, therefore sooner or later one Labour hereditary peer will die.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: The position of the Labour Party on hereditary peers is one which is very familiar. I do not think if both of them were to be unhappily in a taxi cab accident we would see this accelerating the position we would want to see replicated across the House, not that anyone should die in a taxi cab accident but hereditary peers should not continue to be Members of Parliament.

  Lord Chancellor: Can we proceed on the basis that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has had some well deserved fun at our expense but of course there is going to be appropriate legislation and in any event if any of those situations arose then the problem can be revisited by the Procedure Committee.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I accept that that is undoubtedly true but of course we cannot, as I understand it, change the character of the electorate or maybe I am wrong about that? The Clerk of the Parliaments—

  Clerk of the Parliaments: The character of the electorate could be changed by changing paragraph (2) of the Hereditary Peers By-election standing order.

  Chairman: Lord Strathclyde?

  Lord Strathclyde: I wanted very briefly to make that point but also in the event of a tie there is provision for the drawing of lots—and I recognise that should be avoided—but also if both hereditary peers die then the standing orders allow new arrangements to be brought into effect.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Then life peers would be allowed to vote?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Not as presently envisaged.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: No, but we are talking about a paragraph dealing with this particular possible eventuality. Surely the position is that if you have in fact the inevitable circumstance in which someone will die, in that situation could the electorate be changed? As I understand it, you are saying not. Am I wrong about that?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Standing orders are capable of change by the House on a report from the Procedure Committee.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: In other words, the Procedure Committee could in future in this particular situation say, not withstanding the interesting discussion we have had earlier, that the electorate could be changed to include life peers?

  Chairman: Without a doubt this Committee could return to that as a possible option.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I see.

  Baroness Lockwood: And recommend it to the House.

  Chairman: Recommend it to the House, certainly, for the House to decide.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I hope that will be made clear when this matter is discussed in the House.

  Earl Ferrers: You would not do that the minute one Labour peer died. You would not bring it to the Procedure Committee and say, "Let's have all the have life peers because there is one person to vote for the successor"?

  Chairman: That is right.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: In other words, you have agreed that notwithstanding what is said by Ministers to be the intention of the Government at some future date as far as House of Lords reform is concerned, we are being asked to agree that a single person would nominate and choose a Member of Parliament. I find that an absolutely extraordinary proposition.

  Lord Chancellor: I have heard that from the noble Lord, Lord Harris, on more than one occasion.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: You will hear it again and again and when it becomes known to a wider public, Ministers are going to find deep embarrassment in defending this policy.

  Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: It is, my Lord Chairman, an absolute nonsense. But we all know that we are bound to live with it in the present circumstances.

  Lord Denham: In the first standing order that we have already agreed to, paragraph (7) at the end refers to the first standing order and says: "If no such runner-up is available, the House shall decide how the vacancy shall be filled." I am wondering if no one appears to be available for the by-election whether again something could not be written so that the House should decide. Let us say there was no Liberal or Labour peer available to be elected whether the House should not then decide again, as in paragraph (7) of the earlier standing order.

  Chairman: Does the Clerk of the Parliaments wish to say anything on that.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Of course more detail could be put into the by-election standing order.

  Lord Denham: As a fail-safe.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: It has been drafted to reflect the instructions, so to speak, that I had as part of the "deal" and to that extent it is a fair reflection of it. If the House feels that there ought to be a fail-safe in the event of these apocalyptic scenarios, that could be provided.

  Lord Denham: Something along the lines of that last paragraph in (7) in the previous one?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: It would not readily fit in paragraph (2).

  Lord Denham: It would have to be adapted. If some thought could be given to that it might save a lot of argument.

  Chairman: I think the main point about this is just as paragraph (7) in the previous standing order provides for the House to re-visit the matter, so the House would have to reconsider the matter here anyway, so we do have that safeguard. It would have to be done. So perhaps it could be left as it is, bearing in mind that would have to be done anyway. My Lords, I sense (unless there is anything more) that your Lordships wish to move to the adoption or otherwise of the second proposed new standing order. May that be agreed? (Agreed) We then turn to the middle of page 5 of the Clerk's memorandum, it is headed "electoral arrangements", and there is the whole series which I am taking now up to paragraph (r). I do not know if the Clerk of the Parliaments wishes to add anything to what he said earlier on in his paper.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Not yet—if something occurs, I will try to deal with it.

  Chairman: My Lords, perhaps I should pass seriatim through the small letters and your Lordships will stop me if you wish to raise anything. 5(a) the Clerk of the Parliaments will be the Returning Officer. May that be approved. (Agreed) That is agreed. Thank you very much. (b) which deals with the register to vote, may that be agreed, my Lords? (Agreed) That is agreed, I am obliged. (c) registry of candidates is what that deals with. May that be agreed, my Lords? Lady Hamwee?

  Baroness Hamwee: The peers wishing to stand in particular for Deputy Speakers and other officers, I wonder if I could ask what commitments would have to be given and made public as to their willingness to undertake what is in fact a variety of jobs.

  Chairman: Clerk of the Parliaments?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I do not know that any commitment that was given in advance could be held to after the election was over, but I feel sure that the 15 hereditary peers who currently serve as Deputy Speakers would probably put their names forward and it would be well-known that they were willing and were capable of doing the work. If, for instance, Lord Colwyn as Chairman of the Refreshment Sub-Committee put his name forward, he would be known as someone who was serving as a Chairman and of course eventually he would cease to hold that office because no one holds the office of the Chairman of the Refreshment Sub-Committee for more than a certain length of time. Eventually he would have to give that job up.

  Baroness Hamwee: I think there are perhaps three points, I am sure there are others but there are three in my mind. The good intentions of those who are currently serving was not one of them. Point one is that those who are not known to the House because they do not hold any of those positions at the moment but may see this as, if you like, a way in—

  Lord Strabolgi: I am sorry to interrupt Lady Hamwee but would it not be best to defer this until we come to the election of the Deputy Speakers on which I shall have one or two things to say. This is a detail which I think would be well worth exploring later when we come to it.

  Baroness Hamwee: I do not mind.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Surely this is the issue clearly identified in the sub-paragraph, it relates to hereditary peers wishing to stand for election as Deputy Speakers. "Any hereditary peer may stand in either, or both, elections". The question is, do they basically have to give some form of commitment—Lady Hamwee's question as I understand it—that they are prepared to serve in that capacity? Do they make that clear to all concerned by their name appearing on the register and basically saying "If elected I would agree to serve the House in a capacity either as a Chairman of a Committee or a Sub-Committee"?

  Baroness Hamwee: I wonder, Lord Chairman, if I might just continue very briefly with the point because I think what is in my mind is inter-linked.

  Chairman: I would just say, I bear in mind what Lord Strabolgi has said but I would not want to pass over this provision. I would want us to consider implementing or otherwise this provision in (c) now. Lady Hamwee?

  Baroness Hamwee: Another concern is about those who are serving, for instance, as Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of some of the committees who may not be so well known, which goes on to my third point as to whether there are going to be any rules about campaigning for election? One could see very different—"standards" may not be the right term—"approaches" to campaigning for this. Some people may feel they wish to spend the whole of the summer driving around the country delivering election leaflets or telephone canvassing, others may take a rather more "if I am minded" view. Thank you.

  Chairman: I will ask the Clerk of the Parliaments if he would like to say something on that in a moment. Perhaps I can just give a reaction to Lady Hamwee's fundamental point which is really to what extent can we rely on these people to carry out their duties? I think the only thing that can be said is that we must accept in good faith their commitment by putting themselves forward as candidates. I cannot see any means of compelling anyone to do anything after they have been elected. I think we must rely on good faith, as we have had to do in the past.

  Lord Denham: My Lord Chairman, may I support that. I think it is implicit in the fact that you put your name forward that you obviously are making a commitment at the same time. I think to define too much is not the normal custom of the House.

  Chairman: Thank you very much.

  Earl Ferrers: If I might add to that, Lord Chairman. I think it would be intolerable to expect people to give some form of written commitment that if elected they would do such and such a duty. Equally I think it would be perfectly odious if people went round campaigning. I hope they will not do that.

  Lord Skelmersdale: Lord Chairman, Lady Hamwee does have a point and it is that amongst the electorate some of the people to be elected will not be particularly well known and therefore it would be sensible to have some sort of mark against the existing and past members of the brigade who are to be elected.

  Lord Strabolgi: I would like to support that thought. That was one of the things that I was going to suggest.

  Chairman: Yes, indeed.

  Lord Strabolgi: I think an asterisk should be placed against the names of the current Deputy Speakers, that is the 15, on the voting papers, and a footnote should explain that the asterisk means that these are appointed by a Commission from the Crown. Now there is a great difference, which I think is often forgotten, between Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chairmen. They both do the same job but the Deputy Speakers, who are usually Deputy Chairmen who have done the job for a year or two and are found to be satisfactory, are then appointed by a Commission from the Crown. That is the list that is notified to the House when Her Majesty by commission appoints certain Lords to discharge the duties of Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Chairman on the other hand are appointed by the House on the proposal of the Committee of Selection. Now as Lord Skelmersdale said, and Lady Hamwee too, it is quite possible that if the whole House is going to elect Deputy Speakers, both the life peers and the hereditaries, both frequent attenders and others who do not come quite as often—

  Chairman: And the Bishops.

  Lord Strabolgi: —and as has been said some of them may not know one Deputy Speaker or Deputy Chairman from another. I think they should be identified in this way I suggest. The other question was about them committing themselves. Certainly I have been doing this job for 12 years and I have never known a peer who has been offered or has been appointed Deputy Speaker accepting the offer without being well aware of what the job entails. It is not an easy job, it is not one that everybody can do. I have known distinguished Ministers who have not been able to do it. They have been a good Minister but once they get into the chair in Committee of the Whole House they get confused and they cannot do it. I can cite cases. I think it is much better that the existing team should be identified and it is then for the electorate to decide whether they wish to re-elect them. I am told that the Clerk of the Parliaments will see any extra people when they come and explain the responsibilities of the job so that they do not enter into it in any frivolous way. I cannot imagine that would happen, but it might. I suggest that this distinction between present Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chairman could be shown on the voting paper. Perhaps the Clerk of the Parliaments could give this matter his attention?

  Chairman: Yes, he is aware of the point which is being made, Lord Strabolgi. Perhaps I can just respond to the suggestion which has been made by Lord Skelmersdale and Lord Strabolgi. There would be no difficulty at all, my Lords, if that was your Lordships' wish, to have an asterisk.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I have just been warned by the Clerk to the Committee that the usual rules governing elections would not normally support such a suggestion. The ballot paper should be neutral as between candidates.

  Lord Strabolgi: I was prepared for that and I have thought about it. This has been suggested—I do not want to commit the Clerk in any way—that the House could be circulated with the names of all the candidates and a description given showing the existing Deputy Speakers who are already doing their job and who have offered themselves again. This could be done in a separate document to be circulated.

  Earl of Shannon: My Lord Chairman, I wonder if I might support Lord Strabolgi. Having done Deputy Speaker for ten years, I think it is a job that you have got to learn and you cannot just suddenly arrive and think you are going to be able to take it on.

  Earl Ferrers: Are we talking, Lord Chairman, about electing Deputy Speakers or Deputy Speakers and Deputy Chairmen?

  Chairman: We are talking about the election of Deputy Speakers.

  Lord Strabolgi: 15 of them.

  Earl Ferrers: Deputy Chairmen come from the assembled company?

  Lord Strabolgi: The Deputy Speaker can act on the woolsack and as the Chairman when the House is in committee.

  Chairman: I do not think that for the purposes of our decision this afternoon it is a distinction which we need to worry about.

  Earl Ferrers: The Deputy Speaker is appointed by the Crown?

  Chairman: Only when there is a Commission. I think that these are matters which do not really affect the substance of our decision at all.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Could I be clear, are we talking about Deputy Speakers/Deputy Chairmen?

  Chairman: Yes.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I understand that point. But as I understand it, we are also talking about the Chairmen of some of the other Committees of the House, am I right?

  Chairman: Yes.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: We have mentioned Lord Colwyn who is the Chairman of the Refreshment Sub-Committee as an example. He has been mentioned twice this afternoon. So it is Committee Chairmen, Sub-Committee Chairmen of the European Communities Committees?

  Chairman: Yes.

  Baroness Lockwood: Could we define which Committees we are talking about?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Any Committee of the House. Currently there are five hereditary peers chairing Sub-Committees or Committees. In the end it is for the Committee to elect one of those people to be their Chairman or to be appointed by the Committee of Selection but the current position is that we have five. There is Lord Colwyn on the Refreshment Sub-Committee. In addition, Lord Grenfell, Lord Cranbrook, Lord Reay and Lord Geddes are all Chairmen of European Sub-Committees.

  Earl Ferrers: How many Deputy Chairmen and how many Deputy Speakers?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: There are currently 15 Deputy Speakers who are hereditary peers. One of them happens to be Lord Henley who may wish to stand in a different capacity.

  Lord Strabolgi: And Lord Burnham?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Lord Burnham might also stand in a different capacity.

  Chairman: May I make a suggestion about the identification of those who have served before. As your Lordships will have seen from the Clerk of the Parliaments' paper, the electoral arrangements have to be subject to the guidance of experts on electoral arrangements and that would have to come back to this Committee. My Lords, can we do it in this way. There certainly seems to be some feeling that existing office holders deserve some sort of an indication and if it is possible for an asterisk to be put beside their names that could be done.

  Lord Skelmersdale: It was my original suggestion. May I just say that my original suggestion was most definitely for existing and former Deputies, in other words looking to past service.

  Lord Strathclyde: My Lord Chairman, I am very grateful for what Lord Strabolgi said and I understand his intention was to flag up to the electorate who these people are. Two things arise. The first is that on the list of current Deputy Speakers there is no Liberal member.

  Lord Strabolgi: There is a Liberal Democrat. He is a Deputy Chairman.

  Lord Strathclyde: None of the 15 current Deputy Speakers are Liberal Democrats.

  Lord Skelmersdale: There are two, Lord Methuen and Lord Simon.

  Lord Strabolgi: There is Lord Methuen but he is not a Deputy Speaker, he is a Deputy Chairman.

  Lord Strathclyde: I was going to say if it was limited only to the current 15 who are Deputy Speakers, that would mean that none of those 15 would be Liberal Democrats, and in the spirit of non-partisanship I would regard that as being slightly unfair on the Liberal Democrats. They might wish to make that case themselves. There is a wider issue here. I do not think there should be any presumption that the existing Deputy Speakers should necessarily be the ones that go forward. This Bill is a new proposal. I have to say I regret we are going down this route in the first place, but we are and so we are devising a new way forward, a new proposal and therefore a new election to decide who the 15 should be. Up until now such appointments have been cooked up in the usual channels and when I was the Government Chief Whip I put names forward and so did my predecessors as Chief Whip. It went to the Committee of Selection and that was that. I do not think there should be a presumption these people should be the ones to go through, excellent though they may be. Let me though, offer a solution. I am a member of a number of organisations for which elections take place. I have not the faintest idea who the candidates are and the organisations who run these provide a dozen or two words on each candidate. I see no reason why this should not take place under this procedure and that would avoid putting anything on the ballot paper. That would make it utterly clear. We should ask each candidate to write their own fifteen or twenty words, whatever limit the Clerk of the Parliaments proposes, and then the electorate would be able to decide. The point could be made by those who serve—

  Lord Chancellor: That is a first-class idea, a very good idea.

  Chairman: Thank you very much.

  Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: I entirely agree with everything Lord Strathclyde has said, including who we are electing. I do not believe we should feel we are electing those already in office. We should be looking for others prepared to fill the vacancy when the time comes and not elect the Chairman of a Committee who may only have a year to serve. That may not make good sense at all. I entirely agree and I think there should be nothing on the ballot paper except names and anything else agreed according to the sort of formula Lord Strathclyde suggests.

  Earl Ferrers: So long as that formula is a CV and not a manifesto!

  Chairman: Lord Burnham wished to say something.

  Lord Burnham: It has been for the convenience of the House that Chief Whips and Deputy Chief Whips are Deputy Speakers so they can fill in if the man in the chair suffers a problem. Surely there is no reason why one of the 42 hereditary peers who have been so elected should not be made a Deputy Speaker?

  Chairman: Thank you. I think there is a general acceptance that the formula suggested is acceptable. (Agreed) My Lords, I am conscious that a number of your Lordships have very pressing commitments so I am proposing to go through as rapidly as I can the rest of the proposed electoral arrangements. May I take it then that as a result of that discussion we approve of (c)? (Agreed) Thank you very much. That is agreed. (d) deals with the oath. (Agreed) Thank you very much indeed. Then (e) "... Deputy Speakers ... before the party elections". Is that agreed? (Agreed) Thank you very much indeed. (f) "Registration and the initial elections...", this is providing for the spill-over. May that be agreed, my Lords? (Agreed) (g) "... register in person or by post during a period of two weeks ...". Lady Hamwee?

  Baroness Hamwee: Could I just ask, would fax be a useful addition to that given we are in the middle of the summer for this?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I am happy to receive a fax.

  Baroness Hamwee: I imagine you need a signature?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Yes.

  Baroness Hamwee: E-mail would not be acceptable.

  Chairman: Fax is acceptable. Subject to that then, may we agree to (g)? (Agreed) (h), that is the ballot papers for the election. May that be agreed? (Agreed) Thank you very much. (i), that is the ballot papers for the party elections. Can that be agreed, my Lords? (Agreed) (j), the postal voting point.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, why have we got a more limited arrangement for these elections than for parliamentary elections? Lord Chancellor: They are not parliamentary elections.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Why could we not have more opportunities for postal voting? I do not understand the point.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: From my point of view, if the hereditary peers are keen to participate in these elections, I would have thought they would be keen enough to turn up to do so.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: I am sorry, I just do not accept the validity of that argument. First of all, as I have said, why are we having a more restrictive arrangement than for a parliamentary or European election? I do not understand why we do not allow people to use a postal vote.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Because we do not allow postal voting, for instance, in votes in the House. If people wish to vote in the House they vote in the Division Lobby. It seems to me for this election peers could quite readily turn up to exercise their right.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: There must be a reason why we have this. Somebody has said

  Lord Chancellor: Because we want to do it our own way.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: You want to do it your own way. Was that part of your agreement with Lord Cranborne?

  Lord Carter: Lord Chairman, is it not correct the elections in the Commons for various offices are done in person by turning up in a Committee room?

  Lord Weatherill: Right.

  Lord Denham: My Lord Chairman, if people are not going to be bothered to come along and register their vote in person they do not deserve a vote. This is the way to get people who are going to know who they are voting for.

  Earl Ferrers: Will they get their expenses paid if they come from Scotland to vote?

  Chairman: My Lords, I think there is a recognition that the point has been made. I sense that the general feeling is your Lordships wish to adopt the proposal here? (Agreed) Thank you very much. (k), the electoral system and so on.

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: On (k) on the sixth line where it says: "... to number the candidates in order of preference up to the total number of vacancies for that grouping...". That can actually be interpreted in two ways. You could actually have to use all your votes, a Conservative would have to vote up to 42, a Cross-Bencher up to 28, or it could be interpreted differently, "up to" could be only to vote 30 times.

  Chairman: Yes.

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I am not entirely clear. I think it is meant to be all 42?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: It is meant to be all 42; if not, it is possible that we would not get 42 elected.

  Lord Denham: But would it be a spoiled vote if not?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: If they did not? I was myself asking the question, would they be disqualified if they did not.

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: If the interpretation is the one that I think it is meant to be, that in other words the Conservatives must use all 42, the Liberal Democrats all three, Labour all two and the Cross-Benchers all 28, that is what I think it is meant to be. The corollary, if I can use the word, is that anybody who would be using less than these votes has spoiled their paper.

  Lord Chancellor: That is what you propose?

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: That is what I think ought to be intended, yes.

  Lord Chancellor: So if it were worded "voters will be required to number the candidates in order of preference by voting for the total number of vacancies for that grouping", that would meet the point?

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: Something like that, yes.

  Earl Ferrers: Do we really want to force people to vote for everyone, for all numbers? Is that not a bit draconian?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I think that if you did not get at least one member of the Conservative Party voting 42 times you might actually find that you did not fill all 42 vacancies. Everyone should be required to vote for the 42.

  Lord Denham: If you vote for only five, say, the five that you voted for would be more valuable votes. To get a fair election you have got to have everybody voting for the 42.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: We will make it clear that it is a rule, that if a voter does not exercise all his votes his voting paper will be disregarded.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: You will have to make that clear in very substantial type on the ballot paper.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: We will make it clear.

  Earl Ferrers: In response to Lord Harris's question, this must be about the only place in the world where you have an election which says you have got to vote for all the full numbers.

  Chairman: As part of that, my Lords, "asked" will be replaced by "required" to make that quite clear. Subject to that, are we happy with (k), my Lords?

  Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: (k) says that we will have a common system for all elections.

  Chairman: That is right.

  Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: That is the considered view of the Committee.

  Chairman: Yes. Agreed, my Lords? (Agreed) (k) is agreed. (l), the ballot papers for the Deputy Speakers' election and so on.

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: It is me again. I actually think there is a contradiction between the first paragraph and the second paragraph. Indeed, I do not think that the second paragraph ought to be there.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: That is fine. It can be deleted.

  Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: That was easy.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: We may use expert assistance from the Home Office when the elections take place.

  Chairman: When I was alluding to this earlier on there were whispers in my ear to the effect that some change was going to be suggested. Subject to that then, my Lords, particularly on paragraph one of (l), may that be agreed? (Agreed) Thank you very much indeed. (m), the count, may that be agreed, my Lords? (Agreed) (n), results.

  Lord Denham: Will the near misses be recorded too so that they know possibly within some time they may be coming in and, therefore, able to regulate their lives accordingly?

  Chairman: Yes. I think all the numbers will be available so that will make it clear.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: The numbers will be available. I do not think that we would record in the Minutes of the House the near misses but it would be made clear. We could announce that x, y and z are near misses.

  Chairman: Are runners up.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Or we can show the full electoral result.

  Lord Denham: Say you were Conservative number 47 you might know that you might be required in a certain amount of time.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: An actuary would be able to give a pretty good estimate I should say.

  Earl Ferrers: My Lord Chairman, surely you have got to publish the votes which each person has gained, not just the near misses?

  Chairman: Yes, exactly.

  Lord Weatherill: My Lord Chairman, this is only on the topping up, it is the fastest losers for the first year.

  Chairman: Yes, it is.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: We will make a public record of all the votes and all the numbers. I think the Minutes of the House will only record those who have been elected as Members of the House and, indeed, the only names I would pass to the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery are the ones who have been elected.

  Lord Weatherill: How will we know about the fastest losers?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: By publishing them.

  Lord Strabolgi: How long will it take before results are announced? Will it be a week after, when the House is sitting?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: The day after in the case of the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrat Party.

  Earl Ferrers: It takes quite a long time to count all of these votes.

  Baroness Lockwood: Can we have a list of those elected and then a separate list of the whole of the candidates and votes recorded?

  Chairman: Subject to that may (n) be agreed? (Agreed) Thank you very much. (0), that deals with the possible irregularities.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: What are these? What is "improper conduct"?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I think it is a little dangerous to specify.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: Can you give us a hint?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: Bribery.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: What about the people who issue, let us say, rather extravagantly produced election material, does that count as improper conduct?

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I do not think it is for me to speculate on what might or might not be improper behaviour. If there were a complaint, for instance, I think I would then have to refer it to the Committee for Privileges to adjudicate on. I do not think lavish election material could be said to be to be improper electoral practice but I suppose that if it was felt that excessive hospitality was being offered by a certain peer, that could result in a complaint.

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: So you have got to be careful whose luncheon invitations you accept.

  Earl Ferrers: Can we not ban electoral addresses?

  Earl of Shannon: Is there not be a proper CV in the Library? Every one of us has had to fill in exactly what we have done since we have been here, what committees we have served on and that could be made available.

  Chairman: With respect, I think we dealt with that point earlier on, it was mentioned.

  Baroness Hamwee: I think that it is important that candidates for whatever election should know what the rules are that are going to be applied so that they know in advance what is likely to be regarded as improper. I do not think that the rules need to be very complicated but they would deal with things like whether election material could be circulated, whether what we might call "treating" just for the purposes of this discussion were allowed or not allowed. To assess in retrospect whether something is improper seems to me to be not only undesirable but very difficult for the person who has to make this assessment.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I can take advice from the Home Office about this matter; they have offered their help if required. I can, if necessary, circulate the parties with some fairly simple proposed rules.

  Earl Ferrers: May I suggest that we do not make a mountain out of this, before we know where we are we will have rules circulating all over the place.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: I did say "simple rules". If Lady Hamwee thinks it need not be complicated she could assist me with her ideas.

  Earl Ferrers: We really must not make this bureaucratic. We are electing colleagues. The idea of people producing great manifestos and taking you out to dinner—

  Chairman: I think one of the main points about this is that we cannot create an exhaustive list of possible transgressions. I think that the main way of dealing with this is if there is a substantive complaint about the way in which one of us has behaved then that may be referred to the Committee for Privileges. We have that underlying safeguard. Thank you so much. Is that all right, my Lords? May (o) be agreed? (Agreed) (p), the ballot papers and overall votes and so on to be retained. May that be agreed? (Agreed) I am obliged. Vacancies, that is (q)

  Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lord Chairman, I think this is possibly an opportunity for a great deal of mockery. What if you go and live in Hong Kong or you have a stroke or you are in prison—none of those are likely to happen to any Member of this House, I am sure—is it not rather odd to have this? It struck me as being rather strange. The answer may be that it is only for a five minute period but it seems a bit odd.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: You mean that it should be scratched out?

  Lord Henley: The same is true for life peers, they cannot resign a seat.

  Lord Williams of Mostyn: But they are not doing these jobs in these circumstances.

  Clerk of the Parliaments: This was only a paper put to the Committee and originally put into the Library of the House, to explain what the deal was. It can come out of whatever is now recommended to the House, certainly. I do not think (r) need go to the House either.

  Earl Ferrers: Keep (q) in. It is very important.

  Chairman: Would your Lordships be happier without (q) in?

  Lord Strathclyde: I may have missed the point, but if Lord Williams is making the point I think he is making, it is a very important point and I just wondered if he would like to repeat it. What ridicule does he think it would bring?

  Lord Williams of Mostyn: It struck me as being a rather strange thing to put in if we want to avoid mockery and derision of the sort already identified by Lord Harris of Greenwich in another context. If you are made bankrupt no vacancy arises. If you are wholly disabled you still are regarded as having a continuing place or if you want to emigrate to somewhere like Australia—and I can sympathise with the feeling—you are still regarded as here.

  Lord Chancellor: It is a consequence of Clause 2(3) that once accepted a person shall continue to be so throughout his life.

  Lord Williams of Mostyn: I know that, but I am wondering whether we really need to point the little finger.

  Lord Chancellor: You do not need it because of Clause 2(3).

  Lord Skelmersdale: Would not the point be satisfied, and I quite agree with Lord Williams' point, if the first sentence were just removed?

  Earl Ferrers: The first sentence ought to be kept and everything else removed.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: I propose that it be taken out, my Lord Chairman.

  Chairman: Clause 2(3) covers the point anyway, so we do not need this. I sense, although there is a slight difference, the feeling generally is that we can do without this particular point.

  Lord Strathclyde: Presumably (r) is unnecessary.

  Chairman: (r) follows as unnecessary as well. If that is acceptable to the Committee, my Lords. So we delete both of those. I am very grateful indeed to your Lordships. That completes the consideration of these proposed standing orders.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: Can I just make absolutely clear that the final provisions, those we have just spent some time discussing, the electoral provisions, are not standing orders, is that right?

  Chairman: That is right. They are electoral arrangements, not part of the standing orders. They will be put forward as part of our report as recommendations to the House and will need to be agreed by the House.

  Baroness Jay of Paddington: Absolutely, but I think a distinction needs to be made clear by us and we need to hold it in our heads when that debate takes place.

  Chairman: I am very grateful for that clarification.

  Earl Ferrers: Could I ask a question which I am sure everyone else knows the answer to but I do not and it is on page 2, little (e), where it says, "Until the end of the first session of the next Parliament, vacancies which occur in category (b) or (c) are to be filled by hereditary peers ..." Why is it the first session of the next Parliament?

  Lord Harris of Greenwich: That was agreed on the floor of the House.

  Lord Chancellor: It arises out of an amendment put before the House but not pressed to a Division in the name of Lord Strathclyde and it was agreed, as it were, across the floor of the House that by the date when that period had expired runners up would cease to be an effective proxy for contemporary popularity.

  Earl Ferrers: I am very grateful to the Lord Chancellor for making it so clear.

  Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.





 
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