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The Lord Chancellor: The noble Lord intervenes to posit an amendment which is not yet before the Committee. This is a subject about which we can talk till the crack of doom. I do not feel that the crack of doom has yet arrived, but I am not sure that that proposition commands complete assent on the Benches

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behind me. The more we talk, the more it is apparent that the only safe and sensible course is to enfranchise all hereditaries in the parties and in the Cross-Bench group. The Government do not accept the amendment.

Lord Willoughby de Broke: I am grateful to all those who have spoken and to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for his remarks. He concentrated mainly on the numbers. I am inclined to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, and my noble friend Lord Campbell who said that the numbers game is a difficult one to play. My amendment was not tabled on the principle of numbers but rather on the principle of whether life Peers should join the electorate. I am still persuaded of that and I am glad to have had a certain amount of support from all sides of the Chamber.

Having said that, I am aware that we have debated the amendment for three-quarters of an hour. My noble friend Lord Peyton was good enough to intervene and, in view of what he said, I rather wish he had remained a spectator. I listened to the arguments and now beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 4 not moved.]

Lord Coleraine moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 1, line 8, at end insert--
("( ) Standing Orders of the House shall provide that the excepted hereditary peers shall consist of the following categories--
(a) (i) 42 peers elected by the Conservative hereditary peers;
(ii) 5 peers elected by the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers; and
(iii) 28 peers elected by the Cross-bench hereditary peers;
(b) 15 peers, elected by the whole House, from among those ready to serve as Deputy Speakers or in any other office as the House may require; and
(c) any peer holding the office of Earl Marshal as performing the office of Lord Great Chamberlain.")

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 5 is grouped with Amendment No. 6 in the name of my noble friend Lord Lucas and Amendment No. 20 in the name of my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. It is right that I draw the Committee's attention straightaway to the fact that I understand that the advice of the Clerks is that if this amendment were accepted it would make the Bill hybrid because it provides for a specific allocation of different parties within the House and affects the private interests of some hereditary Peers differently from the interests of others. I make it quite clear therefore that even if I had originally intended to press the amendment to a Division, I would not do so in the light of that advice. The advice from the Clerks that the Bill might become hybrid draws attention to the fundamental hybridity of the legislation in taking the Standing Orders together with the Bill itself.

We have heard that until now one of the reasons why the arrangements have to be left to Standing Orders is that we do not wish the affairs of this House to be looked into too closely by another place. It is quite clear also that the reason why the Standing Orders are needed is to stop the essential hybridity of the legislation from showing through.

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My amendment would take away the two hereditary Labour Peers excepted by the Weatherill amendment from the effect of Clause 1 and would transfer them to the Liberal Democrats in recognition of the fact that the Liberal Democrats are undoubtedly badly treated by Weatherill. It is difficult to see why the Labour hereditary Peers are in the Weatherill amendment in the first place. Labour Peers by definition, I should have thought, would not care to have the entitlement to membership of this House "by virtue of a hereditary peerage"--I quote directly from Clause 1 of the Bill. I think of them as rock solid levellers, solid Clause 1 men. Yet they apparently wish to preserve two of their number to sit here by virtue of hereditary peerages.

Amendments other than Weatherill have sought to preserve a hereditary presence for the transitional Chamber and they have been clearly drafted in terms that those who stay would remain because the Act specifically so provided, and not by virtue of their hereditary peerages. The Weatherill amendment is something quite different. Is it not a rum thing that the Weatherill amendment, for which so many Labour Peers voted, was drafted in such high Tory terms? The symbolism of the Government's drafting will surely take some explaining in another place later this year. It would be easy to take a simple view of the Labour hereditary Peers and point a scornful finger at them for supporting this Bill, yet voting for the Weatherill amendment when the Bill will leave them advantaged against other hereditary Peers, well placed to be offered life peerages if they do not succeed in the Labour Party's Weatherill election.

It may well be said that the Labour hereditary Peers will not be offered life peerages. I am sure that is possible. All I can say is that it would be a singular instance of a government cutting off their nose to spite their face if the offer were not made in due course. The Labour hereditary Peers for the most part are making, and have made, a distinctive and worthwhile contribution to the House. They may feel that modesty prevents them from making this claim but I am very happy to put it forward on their behalf. If most of the rest of us are discarded that is no reason why the Labour hereditary Peers should not be preserved as life Peers, even if it shows how the Bill, as amended by Weatherill, with its intended ramifications and consequences, acts unfairly between hereditary Members of the House.

If I contend that the Labour Party should lose its two Weatherill hereditary Peers, that will not harm the Government Benches because, by the principle of broad parity, Labour will gain the right to two more life Peers to take the place of two short-term hereditary Peers.

There is a further point. I can see that the Labour Weatherill election may be seen as something of a poisoned pill for Labour hereditary Peers, something to be avoided. Will there be candidates? The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who is not now in his place, has already put his position in this way. He said, in col. 1124 on 11th May:

    "I have no intention of standing for election. With the prospect of standing for one of two seats, the chances are not very great".

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    In fact, I should have judged his chances very great indeed, for who would want to stand against him to win a hereditary peerage for two or three years under the Weatherill amendment when there was the possibility of the offer of a life peerage instead?

Having disposed of the two Labour Weatherill peerages, I have already pointed out that giving them to the Liberal Democrats would do a measure of justice to the Liberal Democrats who apparently come very badly out of Weatherill. My generosity knows no bounds today. It is a fundamental defect of the Weatherill deal that the political balance of the House is to be thrown into complete disarray just because, in order to tame the opposition to their Bill, the Government insist on going along a fanciful, almost feudal, idea that Weatherill peerages should be distributed, not in a manner proportionate to the number of life Peers belonging to each party, but in a manner proportionate to the numbers of hereditary Peers in each party.

I have found some difficulty in assessing the full effect of transferring the right of two Weatherill Peers from Labour to Liberal Democrat and I would hope for some assistance from the noble and learned Lord who is to reply. It is easy enough to see that under the principle of broad parity vis-a-vis the principal Opposition party, Labour will be entitled to two more life Peers than would otherwise have been the case.

But what of the Liberal Democrats? What would be the effect of my gift on them? Is it a great gift? What I am not clear about, and I hope that the noble and learned Lord may clarify this point, is how the principle of proportionate creation of Liberal Democrats is to work. The principle is referred to in Chapter 6.7 of the White Paper in the following terms:

    "We set out in our manifesto the broad principle which we believe should govern the appointment of life peers but our present intention is to move towards broad parity between Labour and the Conservatives. The principle of broad parity and proportionate creations from the Liberal Democrats and other parties would be maintained through the transitional period". The previous paragraph of the White Paper gives the political breakdown of life peerages as Labour 157, Conservative 172 and Liberal Democrat 45. Can the noble and learned Lord say whether the proportionate creation principle will be applied against the Labour figure, against the Conservative figure or against the combined figure which is 329? Will the principle be applied taking account also of the Weatherill Peers? Whatever the answer, the Liberal Democrats have probably done quite nicely out of Weatherill. It must entitle them to nominate quite a few life Peers. They may prefer not to be heard to repeat their cry, "The Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill" too loudly when we come to consider the question that this clause stand part. We shall see.

Speaking politically, my party as the main opposition party, which is to have a large number of elected Weatherill Peers produced by an electoral system based on universal suffrage, is likely to be at a distinct political disadvantage against Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who are not shackled to the same extent. It is easy to see that our Weatherill election may well throw up Peers who will not be attending on a full-time basis or others

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who might be described as anomalous, and for each such Peer Labour will be appointing a carefully chosen life Peer. I beg to move.

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