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Lord Elton: Perhaps I may point out to my noble friend that we are not concerned about the confusion of the public over ci-devant Peers who are not Members of this House; we are concerned about their understanding of what this House is going to be. That is something different. As my noble friend put so much importance on what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, when he comes to read Hansard he may, if he does not recall it, find in that
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I think that the world outside will have exactly the same clear idea of the functions and place of your Lordships' House after this Bill has passed as they do currently. I do not believe that there will be any great difference.
Perhaps I may suggest to the noble Baroness, Lady Castle of Blackburn, that she should not use the word "cleansing" again because the Government Front Bench has already indicated that it does not particularly like it being used in connection with this Bill. The noble Baroness does not like a few things; indeed, I have little doubt that she does not like the Bill currently having its Report stage in the other place today. However, I imagine that we will hear from her much later about some of the aspects of that legislation.
I cannot remember for the life of me who it was, but recently a mandarin in the BBC circulated an internal document advising people that they should not use the word "British" any more. I believe most noble Lords and indeed the world outside thought that was potty, even by BBC standards. I have to admit that I am a little conservative, like the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie. I do not see why we should not use the word "British". I certainly do not see why we should not, as long as the House is not elected, use the titles that we use at present. Of course, it would be quite a different game if we were to get to a position where this second Chamber was elected. In those circumstances, I think it would be right to call it a "Senate" because it would then be the kind of powerful elected Chamber that we see in some countries around the world, especially in the United States. That would probably very quickly become much more powerful than the lower House and then it would be quite right to call it a "Senate".
However, we are looking at an interim House with no election other than those for the 92 hereditary Peers by their colleagues, and I hope that the Government will not change that. Thank goodness I am not going to be given a vote in that election. I would hate to have to be subject to the kind of campaigning that will no doubt go on. Having just been subject to the campaign at home for the Scottish Parliament, I really have had enough of elections for this year. I think that we should stick as far as we possibly can to the conventions and ways of Britain which have served us well in the past. Although I accept that the Government want to change some things because they feel very deeply that they should be changed, I believe that there is some merit in trying to keep things as much the same as we can, even when we are changing.
The Earl of Dudley: I should have no interest as a member of the steerage peerage who are going to drown in the near future and not leave in the single lifeboat with the captain, crew and a few first-class passengers. However, apart from the contributions of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and other noble Lords, I have to say that, considering the importance of this Bill, this has been a Committee stage of pretty fulsome dullness. I cannot influence the noble Lord, Lord Gray, on what he should do but it seems to me that it would be of considerable interest and of some entertainment--and, indeed, of no risk to the Government whatever--to put it to the vote as to whether this Chamber should continue under the title of "House of Lords".
I personally support the view that it should continue as the House of Lords. I have a deep sense of tradition, which I feel that the country shares, and I would be sorry to lose the title. Incidentally, if it is snobbish to think in terms of a Lord, I should point out to the Committee that such a title is widely held in parts of the world--for example, Agas, "Bushagars", Rajahs and Maharajahs. Indeed, it is a sign of status throughout the world to be called a Lord. I believe that the noble Lords in this House who will remain have every right to hold on to the status, which they have earned, as well as the title of "Lords of Parliament", which they well deserve.
I have to say that I shall be sorry to leave this House. Nevertheless, if that is the choice of the Government, I shall do so. I certainly will not have any hard feelings about it, nor will I hope that people will call themselves something different because I have gone.
Lord Milverton: Of all the names to call this House, whatever is decided in the end, the one of least attraction is that of "Senate". I believe that some of the other names that have been suggested are better. I do not see why we should, as is so often the case now, think that we have to look across to the Atlantic to a certain country--namely, the USA--and feel that we must more or less follow them. That is why I do not agree with the title "Senate". Indeed, if this House were to become a senate, I think we would have to look at the other place and consider whether it should be changed to the House of Representatives.
I do not think that adopting either the name "Senate" or "the House of Representatives" is a good idea. However, some other names which have been suggested are far better. I have never been ashamed of being a Lord. I knew that I was to be awarded a peerage but nevertheless when it happened it took me rather by surprise. The title does not worry me. It makes no difference to the attitude of friends towards me. As I say, I have never been ashamed of my title and I never shall be.
The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): If this Bill is passed, the hereditary Peers will be removed, save for the 92 who will remain under the Weatherill amendment. Some 500 Lords, Spiritual and Temporal, will be left. As the noble Lord has just said, we shall continue to do precisely what we have been doing for the previous few hundred years. There seems no reason at all not to describe the Chamber accurately as the "House of Lords". That has the benefit of continuity, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, has said. As this debate has shown, there appears to be no agreement as regards what the Chamber should be called. The contenders include House of Peers, Senate, Appointed House, Interim House, Transitional House and Temporary House. I say with the greatest respect to those who have proposed the amendments that the sensible course is to continue to call ourselves the "House of Lords" and not to adopt any of the other, I suspect, rather trivial names that have been suggested by way of alternatives.
Lord Gray: I am grateful to the many noble Lords who have contributed to the debate and for the support I have received. However, I do not think I am likely this afternoon to follow the advice of my noble friend Lord Dudley.
Lord Elton: Before my noble friend sits down, I wonder whether it will be possible to tempt the noble and learned Lord who spoke from the Benches opposite to give a slightly more reasoned basis for the advice he gave to the Committee not to support the amendments. I feel that there must be more to it than that.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: With the greatest of respect to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, I believe that I gave my reasons moderately clearly. They do not benefit from repetition. As I said, we are still Lords. There is continuity and there is no need to change our name. There is no agreement as regards the alternatives that have been proposed which all seem inappropriate.
Lord Gray: In that reply the noble and learned Lord does not address my fundamental point--I think this is probably also the fundamental point of my noble friend Lord Elton--namely; that we are considering the transitional stage. We are trying to put a health warning on it; namely, that the House is not what it has been and not what it will be. That is why I have tabled these amendments.
Some interesting suggestions have been made as regards what the Chamber might be called. I was tempted for a moment; I wondered whether someone might suggest the name the "Uncommons", but no one did. I tabled Amendment No. 110C deliberately as it did not suggest a name at all. The amendment states: