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Lord Williams of Mostyn: We chose this wording deliberately to make it as comprehensive as possible. I am not aware of what the man in the street thinks of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, as he then was, but if he asks me I shall explain that he possessed that title because he had disclaimed a senior one.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: I always seek to be helpful. His title of Lord James Douglas-Hamilton was a courtesy title as he was the younger son of the Duke of Hamilton.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Precisely. But, if anyone has investigated the arcane streams of Scottish peerages, I believe it is correct that he disclaimed his opportunity to use the subordinate title, which nevertheless was a substantive one. If I remember correctly, the titles of the Duke of Hamilton descend in a peculiarly Scottish way. I am glad to see that I have the support of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, on these occasions, as so often. If the man in the street, or his wife, then approached me about the problem of the Earl of Ancram I would point out that he was not a real Peer at all but had a courtesy title since his father, the present Marquess, is still alive and the Earl of Ancram--otherwise known as Michael Ancram--is not in receipt of the happy beneficence of a Writ of Acceleration.

I turn to the particular question raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden. I am not aware that I am able to point to any judicial definition of,


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    "member of the House of Commons". I am absolutely certain, sure and positive that I cannot point to any legal definition of,


    "member of the Welsh Assembly". Nevertheless, those expressions are found in statute. If someone is expelled from membership of the House of Commons I apprehend that judges will have no difficulty in construing it.

We wanted to have a simple definition that was as comprehensive as possible. It includes the right to attend, sit or vote in the House of Lords. I imagine that it would also include the right to the use of the facilities, otherwise known as club rights.

I think we have it plain, simple and understandable. We do not want continuing arguments in the future as to whether there are any other functions beyond attendance, sitting or voting which might have been former rights of Peers. That is the reason we have adopted this formulation.

Lord Marlesford: I am deeply puzzled, because if one reads the Explanatory Notes to the Bill one sees the word "membership" defined as the right to sit and vote. Surely it is the opposite way round? It ought to be. The Bill should have the technical terms of sitting and voting; the Explanatory Notes should have the man in the street's meaning of "member".

I would have thought that my noble friend's amendment was extremely sound. It is much better to have the words in the Explanatory Notes in the Bill and the words in the Bill in the Explanatory Notes.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Not really, because this amendment talks about attendance, sitting and voting, whereas "attendance" is not found in the Explanatory Notes.

Lord Marlesford: That is merely an omission.

Lord Northbrook: Could the Minister comment on counsel's view that Clause 1 as it stands does not change the law? This again goes to what we talked about earlier: that nobody is a Member of the House of Lords by virtue of hereditary peerage but the membership is conferred by the obedience to the Writ of Summons. There is therefore a need for the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We had almost a full two hours on this point, but I can still remember it. What the Lord Chancellor said, and therefore it must be right, was that a hereditary peerage inheres in the person presently entitled to it. However, the right to come to this place depends on the Writ of Summons.

That was the position earlier today and it remains the position now.

The Earl of Northesk: It is self-evident that noble Lords opposite set great store by the manifesto, so I hope to pursue this point a little further. It is also

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self-evident--returning to what my noble friend on the Front Bench said about the man in the street--that the manifesto refers specifically to sitting and voting.

I wonder why the matter has changed in translation from the manifesto, which presumably is understood by the man in the street, in terms of drafting and legislation. I make that point simply because one could be tempted to the conclusion that the intent of the Government here is to make the phrasing of the Bill so comprehensive and transparently intelligible to the man in the street because they now believe that the man in the street did not actually understand the manifesto.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: First, I did not mention the manifesto. Secondly, it has been asserted without any evidence that I have discovered that only 2 per cent of the men in the street understood the manifesto and therefore we wanted to make it clear for the other 98 per cent.

Earl Ferrers: Could I ask the noble Lord a question for my own comprehension, without irritating him too much? He did let something go rather quickly and I did not hear him properly. He spoke about club rights. Did he say that hereditary Peers would continue to have club rights?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Certainly not, and the noble Lord never irritates me. We always have the most harmonious of relationships, which is why our respective friends deeply suspect us.

I did not say that existing hereditary Peers would be entitled to the continuation of club rights. I did not say that, nor did I mean it.

Earl Ferrers: Would the noble Lord be good enough to say what he did say about club rights?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Of course. I was perhaps speaking a little quickly because of the lateness of the hour. What I said was that the three activities described in the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, might not sufficiently encompass all aspects of membership of this House: for instance, coming in for a cup of tea; using the car park; using the coat hook, and similar related activities. That might be something rather wider than attending, sitting and voting. For the avoidance of doubt, I simply mentioned that club rights might, for instance, be the object of some noble Lords' future ambitions, and I did not want them to be disappointed by not putting the formula as comprehensively, plainly and simply as possible.

12.15 a.m.

Lord Trefgarne: One of the features of ministerial replies to amendments during the course of these proceedings is that they often raise as many questions as they answer. I fear that that has happened again this evening and I cannot promise the noble Lord that we shall not return to the matter at the next stage. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Clifford of Chudleigh moved Amendment No. 17A:


Page 1, line 5, leave out from ("be") to end of line 6 and insert ("by virtue solely of a hereditary peerage a member entitled to vote in the House of Lords except on constitutional matters, pending the implementation of measures ensuring comprehensive reform of the House of Lords which maintain existing powers to control the Executive and such measures receiving Royal Assent")

The noble Lord said: At this early hour of the morning, I thank all noble Lords for being present as I move Amendment No. 17A standing in my name. As is so often the case, unless one reads the Bill and the amendment together, the position can be difficult for the man in the street such as myself to understand. It may be wise for me to go through the amendment.

The Bill states:


    "Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal". My amendment provides that no one shall,


    "by virtue solely of a hereditary peerage [be] a member entitled to vote in the House of Lords except on constitutional matters". I do not need to continue with the remainder of the amendment.

There is only one way to know the will of the people, and that is to listen to them. Her Majesty's Government are determined at this stage of the House of Lords Bill to remove a vast number of listeners to many diverse opinions--rural, agricultural, urban or industrial. On defence we have heard from the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth. There are also views expressed on finance. Those listeners express the views heard when speaking on legislation passing through this House.

We are discussing stage one of a reform Bill relating to this legislature. Should noble Lords allow this stage to pass unchallenged, unheeded, the power of the executive will thrive. It will blossom and completely overshadow the importance of the will of the people.

On 21st April a conference was held in the Moses Room. Counsel's opinion was heard and questioned. The opinion is available in the House of Lords Library and is therefore in the public domain. Copies are available to all Members of the House and some have already been posted to noble Lords. During the conference it was made clear that the executive is not empowered to ensure the passage of this Bill by the use of the Parliament Acts. This House should not fear rejecting the Bill by the threat of the use of the Parliament Acts. It is quite apparent that another place is incapable of controlling the powers of the executive. If we are to be responsible to the will of the people we in the House of Lords must do so.

In Amendment No. 31, my noble friend Lord Weatherill and others raise a principle which must be applauded; that a certain number of hereditary Peers should be permitted to vote. I argue that such an amendment might be best raised in stage two, and so comply with the wishes of so many of your Lordships that stages one and two should be considered together.

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We should consider the two stages together precisely because the will of the people must be pursued. Hence, I recommend that the hereditary Peers should retain the opportunity to vote on all constitutional matters. There are so many sound opinions to be heard from life and hereditary Peers; opinions influenced by the feelings of millions of people outside the walls of Westminster. I call upon your Lordships to consider this amendment favourably. I beg to move.


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