Enable the succession of female heirs to hereditary peerages; and for
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
Any hereditary peerage (“hereditary peerage”) in the peerage of England,
Scotland, Great Britain or the United Kingdom (whatever the terms of the
letters patent, Act of Parliament or other instrument, if any, creating, or
determining the succession of, that peerage) may be succeeded by a female heir
provided that the requirements of section 2 have been fulfilled.
The requirements of this section are that—
the incumbent of an hereditary peerage (“the incumbent”) has, in
accordance with the requirements of section 3, petitioned the Lord
Chancellor in writing for a certificate establishing future succession;
(b) a certificate has been issued in accordance with section 4; and
(c) any female heir succeeding to that hereditary peerage—
(i) has attained the age of 21 years; and
has satisfied the Lord Chancellor that she is the oldest surviving
child legitimately born to the incumbent.
An incumbent may petition the Lord Chancellor for a certificate under section
2 provided that he has—
taken all reasonable steps to discuss his intention to present such a
petition with any legitimate children he has; and
(b) sent a draft of such a petition to any such children.
Hereditary Peerages (Succession) BillPage 2
(2) A petition under section 2 must be accompanied by—
a declaration by the incumbent of his wish to be succeeded by any
female heir who would be eligible to succeed under that section;
documentation to establish any female heir’s right to succeed to the
peerage in accordance with the provisions of section 2 and a declaration
of that female heir’s right to succeed to the peerage made by someone
who is well acquainted with the incumbent and his family; and
where the incumbent also has a son or sons, evidence that reasonable
efforts have been made to inform the son or sons of the petition and to
provide the son or sons with a copy of the petition and associated
documents prior to its submission.
Any document or declaration under subsection (2) shall be endorsed by a
solicitor, Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public.
Within one week of receipt of a petition under section 2, the Lord Chancellor
shall publish the name of the petitioner and the details of the hereditary
peerage that is the subject of the petition.
Any legitimate child of the incumbent of that peerage may lodge an objection
(“an objection”) in response to that petition within 3 months of its publication.
(3) An objection must—
(a) set out the reasons for the objection; and
provide any available documentary evidence to support the objection,
including, if desired, a declaration made by someone who is well
acquainted with the incumbent and his or her family, before a solicitor,
Justice of the Peace or a Notary Public.
(4) In considering an objection the Lord Chancellor—
may invite the persons who submitted the petition and objection or
objections, and any person appointed by them to represent them, to
appear in person or to submit further supporting documentation; and
shall have regard to whether it would be grossly inequitable to allow
the provisions of section 1 to apply to the peerage in question, and in
the financial consequences of so doing for the child making the
whether or not the succession had previously been promised to
the child making the objection.
The Lord Chancellor shall publish his decision in the case of an objection and
give his reasons not later than 12 weeks after it is lodged.
Where the Lord Chancellor is satisfied that all of the conditions of section 2
have been met and no objection has been lodged under this section, or any such
objection has not been upheld, the Lord Chancellor shall issue a certificate to
Where the Lord Chancellor upholds an objection, succession shall continue
according to the letters patent, Act of Parliament or other instrument, if any,
creating, or determining the succession of, that peerage.
Hereditary Peerages (Succession) BillPage 3
In the event that an incumbent dies after a petition has been submitted, the
hereditary peerage shall be vacant until the Lord Chancellor has issued a
certificate or upheld an objection under this Act.
(9) A decision by the Lord Chancellor under this section is conclusive.
A woman who is, under the provisions of this Act, the holder of an hereditary
peerage in the peerage of England, Scotland, Great Britain or the United
Kingdom shall (whatever the terms of the letters patent, Act of Parliament or
other instrument, if any, creating, or determining the succession of, that
have the same right to receive writs of summons to attend the House of
Lords, and to sit and vote in that House, as a man holding that peerage;
be subject to the same disqualifications in respect of membership of the
House of Commons and elections to that House as a man holding that
have all right or interest to or in the peerage, and all titles, rights offices,
privileges and precedence attaching thereto, and any right, interest or
power (whether arising before or after succession in accordance with
the provisions of this Act) in or over any estates or other property
limited or settled to devolve with that peerage.
Where a female heir succeeds to a hereditary peerage under the provisions of
succession shall proceed thereafter as though section 1 applies to that
the provisions of section 2 shall not apply, provided that any female
heir succeeding to the peerage meets the requirements of section 2(c).
(2) Nothing in this Act shall accelerate the succession to any hereditary peerage.
Where an incumbent holds more than one hereditary peerage the provisions of
this Act shall apply separately to each such peerage.
(1) This Act may be cited as the Hereditary Peerages (Succession) Act 2012.
(2) This Act shall come into force on the day on which it is passed.
(3) This Act extends to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.