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Baroness Crawley: I am grateful to the noble Earl for giving way. Under his amendment the initials might be "LP" after the name, "Lord of Parliament". Would the noble Earl mind being mistaken for a member of the Labour Party?
Perhaps my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish is having a cup of tea. I am sure that he would not mind being called "the right honourable John Mackay LP." What about the noble Lord, Lord Steel? He was quite happy to come here as "Lord Steel"; he has climbed up the Christmas tree and now finds himself Speaker of the Scottish Parliament. He says that he wants to be called "Sir David Steel", another act of humility. Perhaps he prefers not to be identified too much with such a retrograde place as the House of Lords. It was said the other day that when he returns here doubtless as a Speaker he will have to sit on the Cross Benches. That is interesting. What would he be called? Would he be called "Lord Steel?" It is a bit of a rum do if he is "Lord Steel" when he is here and "Sir David Steel" when he is up in Scotland. I am sure he would not mind being called "Sir David Steel LP".
We come to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn. Empathising with this proposal will cause him no difficulty because quite a left-wing heart beats under that glorious right-wing exterior. I am sure he would be happy to be called "the Right Honourable Gareth Williams LP".
My noble friend Lord Stanley said that he was pushing at an open door. So am I. Perhaps the Committee wishes to consider this fascinating subject which the noble Baroness happened to start, inadvertently, in a newspaper article.
The Earl of Onslow: I wish to speak strongly against the amendment. I do so because it would spoil my life if the noble Baroness ceased to be "Lady Jay." She has grandeur and aristocracy; she looks every bit in the mode of an 18th century duchess. She inherited it from a long line of distinguished Labour Peers, so she is, if nothing else, a hereditary Peeress manquee who, bless her cotton socks, will stay through stages one, two and probably three as well. We cannot possibly not call her "Lady Jay".
This will lead to considerable confusion because we are lords of parliament; we are lords of the old Scots Parliament. If future Members of this reformed House are to be called "Lords of Parliament", goodness me, the mind boggles, it will be very confusing.
I go further. If I read the paper correctly, I thought that the noble Baroness the Leader of the House said some months ago that she would like the reformed House to be the senate. She shakes her head; perhaps I am mistaken. I cannot go along with the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, for those reasons.
Lord Annan: To cut through the badinage on this amendment, the noble Earl will be surprised to know that I am in sympathy with it, except that it seems muddled. The first amendment he proposes is that this be an appointed House. Then we are to be called "Lords of Parliament." I agree entirely that we cannot change the name of this place into "Senate." It would lead to infinite confusion and the pretension that we are in some way comparable to the United States Senate. We are and have been for centuries the House of Lords. But there is a difference, once the hereditary Peers go, between ourselves and the hereditary peerage. I honour the hereditary peerage, I have no wish to see the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, called "Citoyen Cecil". I want him to keep his title, and I want the noble Earl to remain an Earl and someone whom I respect and honour.
However, I do not want to have pretensions to those titles. I have never earned them and never had, in any sense, pretensions to the noble lineage which I see opposite. The whole business of calling people "Lords" when they come here reinforces the snobbery endemic in our society. That is why the noble Earl so cleverly put what we ought to be called, "LP", "Lord of Parliament".
There is one reason why that is not a good title. When I said to my daughter that it was the kind of name I wished to be called, she said: "You do know what 'LP' stands for: long-playing record". By George, we have had some good examples of that today.
I do not know that I shall be able to go into the Lobby with the noble Earl, but he is right that in a reformed House we should not try to ape a splendid body of people who, as we know, have given great service to the nation but are no longer to be Members of this place. We should content ourselves with being called "Lords of Parliament" and de-erminise this House.
Viscount Cranborne: I have found myself in agreement for some time with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Annan. However, I should tell the noble Lord that I was recently approached by someone--who shall remain nameless-- who said to me: "I see, Cranborne, that you have inherited all the regrettable radicalism of members of your family". So "Citoyen Cecil" may not be too far away from what I shall become.
There is something to be said for attempting to differentiate between the House as it is now, and the House as it will be following the passage of this Bill. It is right to say, as I have understood by implication from some speakers, that to be called "Lord Snooks" does not necessarily mean that you are a Member of this House. The appellation "Lord" does not automatically entitle anyone to a peerage. I believe I am right in saying that only at the beginning of the 15th century did it become customary for heredity to be the only qualification for membership of this place. I believe that, before then, people were summoned here, not always because of who their father or mother was. We also know that, since 1958, it has not been necessary to be a hereditary Peer to be a Member of this House. Equally, Irish Peers, and Scottish Peers before 1963, were entitled to call themselves Lord Mac-Something because of who they were, not because they were Members of this place. There are plenty of other examples.
Nevertheless, the present House is dominated by the ethos of the hereditary principle. The Labour Party does not like that fact and is trying to change it. But in spite of the increasing proportion of life Peers, particularly among those who attend this House, I submit that the courtesies and habits of the hereditary peerage dominate our proceedings--and the proceedings are none the worse for that.
After the Bill's passage, that will change. If we believe that language means anything, it is at least sensible to differentiate, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, suggested, between someone calling himself "Lord Snooks", which by the evolution of history has come essentially to imply a hereditary peerage, although it did not start that way, and someone with membership of this House, which from now on will, I suspect, be largely by nomination if the Prime Minister gets his way.
It will be interesting to decide what the new Members of this House will be called. It would be a mistake for them to pretend by implication that this place is still a House of "Lords". As the word "Lords" has come by custom to mean effectively a hereditary order, it therefore seems extremely sensible to change that--
Viscount Cranborne: I hear murmurs of, "Not so". I have acknowledged that since 1958 that has emphatically not been the case. Nevertheless, the appellation "Lord", in spite of the number of life Peers in this place, has all the trappings of the hereditary peerage. Indeed, is it not curious that life Peers are introduced in the full panoply of ermine, when, after
I am all for differentiating Members of the new House from members of the public, and indeed Members of another place. I am doubtful about calling them "senators", for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Annan. There is merit in some form of continuity in terms of popular language. I suspect that in the "Dog and Duck" it will be difficult for people to talk of a senate; inevitably, the upper House will be forever associated with the idea of "Lords", no matter who is a Member of it. The suggestion made by my noble friend Lord Ferrers is probably about as good as we shall get.
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