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After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--


(" . Nothing in this Act prevents the holder of an hereditary peerage from being a member of the House of Lords other than solely by virtue of that hereditary peerage.")

The noble Lord said: Acceptance of the "Weatherill amendment" has dealt with most of the issues I wished to raise with this amendment, and therefore it is not moved.

[Amendment No. 87 not moved.]

[Amendment No. 88 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

The Earl of Onslow moved Amendment No. 89:

After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) The Prime Minister shall draw up and publish a list of relevant interests.
(2) The Prime Minister shall ensure that persons representing those interests are recommended to Her Majesty for conferment of life peerages under the provision of the Life Peerages Act 1958.
(3) In making recommendations under subsection (2), the Prime Minister shall consult representatives of those interests.")

The noble Earl said: I raise this amendment because I want stage one, or whatever stage we are at now, to work. I want the House of Lords to have authority; I want the House to have authority to argue with the executive; I want the House to have authority to argue with the Commons.

When Sir Robert Walpole, the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, managed to control the Tory majority in the House of Lords, he did it by the use of ruthless patronage of the Bench of Bishops, who were all paid-up Whig Members. He managed by that method, and that method alone, to overcome an inbuilt Tory hereditary majority.

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The House of Lords has always been a House of power and influence, and the reason it can be reformed is that we, the hereditary peerage, do not represent the power and the influence that we did even 50 or 60 years ago. We are but small cogs in an enormous machine. Therefore, in some ways I wish the Government well in their efforts at reform. They could have got it more easily, they could have got it quicker, and they could have got it with a great deal more consent. I also think that there is a gradual emergence of quite a lot of consensus about what will happen in the future.

I have put down the amendments because they have precedents in British history. They have the precedents of self-election, in the Scots and the Irish peerage, for those of the hereditary peerage who will stay under the Weatherill amendment, and those who are appointed have precedents in the Bishops and the Law Lords.

Those precedents should now be widened. Whenever I put forward this view, people ask me, "Who do you think it ought to be?" Basically, being rather idle by nature, I thought it would be easier to suggest that somebody else should do this, but that there should be a published list of people who will become Members of the House, who will represent powers and interests. Therefore, the Prime Minister can say "These are the sort of people I will accept, or would recommend, for the House." This would make the process of arriving at the House more transparent.

The more transparency appears in an appointments system the less easy it is to accuse anybody of packing the place, or behaving like Walpole with the Bench of Bishops. Therefore, this is a plea that, when things change--and they are obviously going to change--transparency in the appointments to even stage one of this reform should be as great as possible.

Lord Monkswell: There are only a couple of amendments in this whole Committee stage on which I feel moved to speak. This is one of them. While I cannot support the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, I must support the sentiments about which he spoke in moving the amendment.

The text of the amendment is flawed in terms of how it may work in relation to the Bill. But the sentiments about which the noble Earl speaks are perfectly valid. The idea that Members of your Lordships' House should represent power in the land is significant. He mentioned that the hereditary peerage does not represent power. I believe that he was wrong in that, because there are Members of the hereditary peerage with seats in this House who do represent power. There are others of us who do not. There are also members of the life peerage who represent powerful interests in the land and there are members of the life peerage who do not.

One can look carefully at what is meant by power; for example, someone who is wealthy or who has a very significant position in terms of business has power. One can see that those are powerful people. But there are other forms of power. The power of knowledge and intellect is commanding in this day and age.

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This is really just a marker for the Royal Commission and I am sure that is why the noble Earl has tabled the amendment. In future, we must think of the House of Lords representing different interests from the other place. The other place represents the power of the people but there are other powers in the land, whether they be money, commercial interests or the media. Those should be reflected in Parliament. So I agree with the sentiments behind the noble Earl's amendment although I cannot agree with the text of the amendment.

Viscount Cranborne: I am one of those who has, in the past, been very tempted by the seductive arguments which have seduced my noble friend Lord Onslow when he advocates an ex officio House. The arguments are very much as he put them forward.

After all, your Lordships' House really originated as an ex officio House. Anybody who has read the late Mr. Enoch Powell's history of the mediaeval House of Lords will see how clear it is that it became convenient for the monarch to have the great powers of the land under his eye and to separate the great powers of the land from the burgesses in the House of Commons.

That was convenient for all sorts of reasons. Partly, as your Lordships will know better than I, it was convenient because it did not suit the monarch to give an opportunity for the great powers in the land to make common cause with the burgesses of the House of Commons. Equally, it was convenient, if possible, to make sure that the great powers of the land were able to exercise some influence in a peaceable manner rather than to go out and do battle in the street or rebel against the Crown.

It seems to my that my noble friend has perhaps been seduced by his well-known love and study of history into thinking that the same principle could apply today. Superficially, of course, it might. But you only have to look at what actually happened to the mediaeval House of Lords. I put forward my own analysis with some diffidence because there are many far better historians in this Committee than I. I seem to remember, however, that the basis of power as perceived at the time was that power really resided among those who owned land. Indeed, that was at least part of the reason why so many princes of the Church were Members of your Lordships' House--abbots and bishops--because, as we know, the Church owned an enormous amount of land. It is true that in those days they had great moral authority--perhaps rather more moral authority than right reverend Prelates have today, dare I say it. None the less, the basis of their power was not only a moral authority but also, as Lady Bracknell described it, "really solid assets" as well.

It is therefore attractive to think that the monarch's reasoning was right. But the difficulty is that, if you are going to make a judgment about who deserves to be in such an ex officio House for the reasons that my noble friend set out, you also have to make a judgment about who exercises power in the land. Is it not significant that, just as this principle was beginning to be established at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, that was the very time when it was becoming more than apparent that the ownership of land

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was no longer the exclusive repository of power that people took it to be? The middle classes were beginning to appear even then--rich merchants and so forth--and therefore this rather cosy and happy arrangement which has so seduced my noble friend was out of date even before it became current. Like all institutions, as your Lordships' House became established, your Lordships preferred to lose power rather than change the House's membership in order to satisfy the original purpose of your Lordships' House.

The only point I wish to make--and I apologise to the Committee for what I know is an inadequate and rather unattractive analysis to an expert House from a very amateur historian - is that the same inconvenience of the ex officio House applies in spades today. Not only is it very difficult to see who is going to decide who will be a member of the ex officio House but, because of the rapid nature of developments in the modern age and because, as we see more and more frequently, the gap in time between cause and effect is becoming increasingly narrow--and perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Desai, can confirm that this is particularly evident in the economic field, perhaps largely because of the march of technological development and communication--it therefore becomes apparent that, if it was not possible to have an adequately representative ex officio House representing the great powers in the land in mediaeval times, it is even less possible today and we would always be--as the military so charmingly put it--a long way behind the curve.

We can see this perhaps with the ebb of trade union power. The trade unions undoubtedly would have been very powerful in an ex officio House in the 1970s but less powerful in the 1980s. They are actually rather more powerful today as, with the help of the European Union and, to a lesser extent, the Labour Government, they begin to claw their way back into everyday management considerations in British industry and commerce.

What I would say with the greatest regret to my noble friend is that, while I am seduced momentarily by the charm with which he has introduced his amendment, in practical terms, charming though this may be as a historical analysis, I do not think that even in mediaeval times it worked in practice and I do not think it would today.

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