15. The work involved in agreeing procedures
for the elections of 90 hereditary peers and in making the arrangements
for these unique events was considerable both for members and
staff. Proposals were first discussed in an official working group,
which was chaired by the Cabinet Office and included the Clerk
of the Parliaments and representatives of the political parties
and the Cross Bench Peers. Their recommendations were then submitted
to the Procedure Committee which agreed two new Standing Orders
with the following key provisions:
- The hereditary peers excepted from section 1
of the House of Lords Act should consist of:
- peers elected by the Labour hereditary peers;
- peers elected by the Conservative hereditary
- peers elected by the Liberal Democrat hereditary
- peers elected by the Cross Bench hereditary peers;
- peers elected by the whole House from among those
ready to serve as Deputy Speakers; and
- peers holding the office of Earl Marshal or Lord
- A peer was required to register in order to stand
for election or to qualify as an elector.
- A vacancy occurring through a death among the
elected peers up to the end of the first session of the next Parliament
would be filled by the nearest runner up in the relevant election.
Thereafter, a vacancy would be filled by by-elections.
16. The detailed arrangements for the elections
included a requirement for peers to vote for the total number
of vacancies in order of preference; in addition, a code of conduct
for candidates and voters was issued which allowed candidates
to submit up to 75 words in support of their candidacies.
17. The election for those ready to serve as
Deputy Speakers was held on 27 and 28 October and the party elections
on 3 and 4 November. There were 33 candidates for the first election
and 410 candidates for the second. The results were announced
in the House on 29 October and 5 November respectively.
18. The Clerk of the Parliaments acted as Returning
Officer and responsibility for running the elections lay with
the Journal Office under the leadership of the Clerk Assistant.
Valuable advice and assistance were provided by Electoral Reform
Ballot Services and the count took place at their offices in North
London under the scrutiny of nominees from each of the parties.
It was the first occasion on which electronic counting methods
had been used in connection with an election for members of Parliament.
19. In December 1999, the House agreed that certain
facilities should be granted to the hereditary peers excluded
from the House. These included access to one of the galleries
and, on an experimental basis, the right to sit on the Steps of
the Throne; limited access to the Library; and certain limited
rights to use the Refreshment Department.