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Lord Gray: My Lords, having been favoured with several mentions by the noble Baroness, perhaps I may assure her that some of our motives are identical. I was not sure whether I had fallen into good company or bad, but I was somewhat surprised.

Apart from needing to avoid the repeal of Section 4 by some of my Scottish amendment machinations, I had realised that there was a risk that Scots Peers and female hereditary Peers would be excluded from the Weatherill system for the interim House had the repeals stood.

However, I had another reason. Should the interim House last for a considerable time, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the rules for admission to the electoral college and eligibility might have to be changed. If there

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were a clash at this moment, it would be unfortunate. At some future date when the rules were altered it might mean that it would involve all Peers who, but for the passing of the Act, would have received a Writ of Summons, and then Scots Peers and hereditary Peeresses would be excluded. With that small contribution, I am happy to have support for my Amendment No. 77 from the noble Baroness. I thought I had better speak in case she loses her amendments.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, first I wish to ask the noble Baroness whether she will apply the same concession to me in relation to these amendments as she was prepared to apply to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde in relation to Amendment No. 44A. They are amendments of some complexity. It may well be at this late hour that I, for one, and perhaps one or two other noble Lords, may have missed a crucial loophole. The noble Baroness indicated that that approach would apply to these amendments.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, as I said in my concluding remarks, I am happy to do that on Amendment No. 44A. Does the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, suggest that the process should apply to the whole group? I understood from what the noble Lord, Lord Gray, said that he was happy to move his amendment.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, as regards the amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Gray, I know that he is a great authority in this matter and I am not. I am content to accept whatever approach he wishes to take to Amendment No. 77.

Perhaps I may touch on the amendments to which the noble Baroness spoke. At the end of my remarks I may revert to the matter I have just raised. On Amendment No. 44A, I accept the objective that the amendment seeks to achieve. In my submission, it is acceptably achieved by the amendment, but there may be some disagreement among noble Lords as to whether that is so. As regards the wording, there may still be some room for improvement.

I also accept that Amendment No. 58E is consequential on Amendment No. 74A and that Amendment No. 64A is a paving amendment. Amendment No. 67A is a necessary textual change.

I have an important reservation to make about Amendment No. 68A, however, which concerns the overriding of the Writ of Summons not applying to Weatherill Peers. As the Lord Privy Seal knows, the Opposition consider it at least doubtful that Clause 5(2) is effective. She will recall the opinions expressed in earlier debates about the effect of the Bill on Writs of Summons for the life of the current Parliament. Therefore this amendment, though consequential, is nevertheless of great significance and potentially invalid. We do not accept that, by implication, the Writ is overridden for all Peers who do not fall within the Weatherill category. That is a matter to which we will return more generally when we deal with amendments to Clause 5(2) of the Bill.

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As for Amendment No. 74A, which refers to the 1963 Act, it seems to me logical that the noble Baroness should wish to tidy up this part of the Bill. However, I find difficulty in imagining circumstances in which someone in receipt of a Writ of Summons, and therefore about to become a Weatherill Peer, should wish to disclaim his or her hereditary peerage.

I have reached the final amendment in this group to which I intend to speak, because we have already dealt with Amendment No. 77 in the name of my noble friend Lord Gray. As to noble Lords who receive the Writ of Summons at the beginning of the intermediate House, the change in the 1975 Act is wholly irrelevant. I suppose the only categories of Peer to which the 1975 Act can apply are either those sitting in another place who might subsequently become Weatherill Peers as a result of being on the list, or those sitting in another place who might subsequently become Weatherill Peers as a result of by-elections.

In fact, I am rather intrigued by the fact that this amendment should coincide with the remarks this afternoon of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about by-elections. In other words, I wonder whether the amendment would have any relevance at all were it not for the fact that we are now to introduce, I am happy to say, by-elections in the process of replacing existing Weatherill Peers, should that be necessary.

I have made a reservation about Amendment No. 68A which I think is crystal clear. We shall deal with that next week when we deal with the final amendments. As far as concerns Amendments Nos. 74A and 76A, I think I understand the intention of the Government. At least, I have stated what I think is my understanding. I should be happy if the noble Baroness could confirm that. As I said, there may be a little tidying up to do in those two amendments. I hope that, if we find that there is, the noble Baroness will be conciliatory at Third Reading.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I share the views expressed this evening by my noble friend Lord Kingsland and other noble friends, and by my noble friends on previous occasions, about the validity of Clause 1. I therefore seek only to ask the noble Baroness whether it is the intention of Amendment No. 68A to address those concerns or whether the Government's position on that matter remains quite unchanged.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, my immediate reply to the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, is that our position on Clause 1 remains unchanged. On the more general points that were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, as I understand it, it would only be appropriate for us to discuss away from the Floor of the House some of what I might call the central group which, as the Marshalled List stands, I would not move now in any event. As I said originally, I should be very happy to do that. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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The Earl of Lauderdale moved Amendment No. 45:

After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--


(" . The House of Lords may make provision for hereditary peers who cease to be members of the House of Lords by virtue of this Act to retain their right to host welfare and charitable events in the Palace of Westminster.")

The noble Earl said: My Lords, after the seven-and-a quarter hours of flamboyant oratory to which we have been listening this afternoon on the wide issues of this House, I may appear somewhat parochial. Very few of your Lordships have been able or indeed willing to escape the warm embrace of some charitable undertaking that needed some kind of a "social jerk", if I may use that term, to get itself into the limelight. Everyone knows what you mean by "a charity". It could be a charity recognised by the Charity Commission. One would not want the Charity Commission to become burdened by a whole flood of new registrations of often rather small charities.

Thanks to the standard works of reference and information stored by the Library research department, I have a list as long as my arm, or very nearly so, of those of your Lordships who have either been caught in this net or who have gladly or readily walked into it. All charitable enterprises require publicity. The fashionable route to that end is the engagement of a noble Lord in some capacity or another, usually as a patron but quite often as a committee member. It is undeniably something of a plus for some people to be able in conversation to say, "I was at the Houses of Parliament the other day". When people say that, it usually disguises the fact that they went to a reception hosted by one of your Lordships to the advantage of a charity. My concern is that, in view of a certain ambiguity in the Government's notes on the Bill to which I shall refer in a moment, we should make it clear that even those Peers who will eventually be disqualified from sitting in the House because they are hereditaries may still enjoy the facilities of the House for such receptions or entertainments that benefit a charitable purpose.

How does one define a charity? The answer to that question is that a charity is something recognised by the Charity Commission, although one does not want to burden it with a flood of new registrations of quite tiny operations. But surely it is for the House of Lords to determine its own rules as to what may or may not go on here--to be precise, through your Lordships' Offices Committee.

On this, there may be a relevant precedent in the arrangements long since made for retiring Members of the Bishops' Bench. A desire was expressed some years ago that, once the Bishops had left the House in their formal diocesan capacity, they should still be allowed to enjoy some of the facilities; notably, sitting on the steps of the Throne and enjoying the facilities of the Refreshment Department. Those two points were referred to the Offices Committee, and in both cases a favourable answer was given.

In composing my amendment, I took care to seek what advice I could get. I was told that the department of your Lordships' House to which it might fall to

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decide about hosting charitable events would most likely be the Offices Committee. That committee acts for the House as a whole, so my amendment is drafted as follows:

    "The House of Lords may make provision". It is hardly for the Bill, on the very face of its text, to tell your Lordships' House how it should decide on such a matter: hence the simple phrase:

    "The House of Lords"-- embracing whatever administrative element is relevant to that--

    "may make provision". I hope that the Government will be able to respond in a sympathetic way to this rather small request. It is small in the sense that it does not affect an enormous number of noble Lords but there are more than 100 noble Lords who are in some way involved in charities of a kind and who are glad of the facilities offered by the House for an occasional reception on their behalf.

The Explanatory Notes on the Bill are slightly ambiguous. In paragraph 7 on page 2 we are told that,

    "Hereditary peers will also lose the right ... to use the facilities of the House that are available to members, such as its library, research and restaurant facilities". On the other hand, there follows a rather more favourable passage:

    "The removal of these rights does not prevent the House from deciding to grant some rights to use the facilities of the House to a hereditary peer under the exercise of its own authority".

Therefore, on occasion it is up to the House to decide what it wants to do.

Without wishing to encroach on the amendment in the Marshalled List that is linked with mine, which relates to access to the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, that gives rise to a similar problem. It is a matter for the House to decide. I hope that tonight we shall hear that the Government look favourably on this general approach. I beg to move.

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