Select Committee on House of Lords Offices Fourth Report

Fourth Report from the Select Committee on the House of Lords' Offices

Tuesday 14th March 2000


  The Committee have met and been attended by the Clerk of the Parliaments and the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod.

1.  Steps of the Throne

  The Committee has considered the four categories of heirs to peerages currently allowed to sit on the Steps of the Throne:

    eldest sons of Peers of Parliament;

    eldest daughters or grand-daughters of such Peers when heiresses presumptive;

    grandsons of such Peers when heirs apparent;

    eldest sons of those who have disclaimed their peerage.

  In the case of hereditary peerages, these categories all assumed that those exercising the right would eventually become Members of the House. That is no longer true, except as the result of a by-election to become one of the 90 hereditary peers who remain Members of the House. The chances of the eldest son, daughter or grandchild of a hereditary peer who had been a Member of the House being elected would be uncertain, though not impossible.

  As the original rationale for the four categories no longer applies, the Committee considers that in future the privilege should be granted to the eldest child of a Peer of Parliament, without regard to gender. The Committee was, however, mindful of the need to avoid any unfairness to eldest sons who had previously exercised their right to sit on the Steps of the Throne but who have older sisters, and therefore recommends that the privilege be granted to:

    "the eldest child of a Peer of Parliament (or the eldest son where the right has been previously exercised)."

2.  Black Rod

  The Committee agreed to an extension of the appointment of Sir Edward Jones for one final year to 8 May 2001.

3.  Staff of the House

  The Committee was informed of the following new posts:

    —  an additional Assistant Archivist / Records Manager in the Record Office;

    —  an additional personal secretary in the Committee Office;

    —  four Legal Assistants to the Law Lords, the posts to be held for up to one year at a time, with effect from September 2000.

4.  Private Bill fees

  The Committee agreed to the following increases in fees, broadly in line with inflation over the period 1995-99:
Current Fee Proposed Fee
Payable on First Reading of Private Bill £3500£4000
Payable on Third Reading of Private Bill £3500£4000
Payable on Second Reading of Provisional Order Confirmation Bill £3500£4000
Payable on appearance at Joint Committee on Special Procedure Order £1750£2000
Payable on appearance at Select Committee on Hybrid Instrument £1750£2000
Taxation fee per £100 of any bill of costs allowed £1.40£1.60

5.  Emergency Medical Services - Defibrillators

  The Committee took note of the decision of the Medical Advisory Panel that the House should hold two defibrillators, one in Peers' Lobby and the other in 1 The Abbey Gardens. The defibrillators and trained personnel will be in place by Easter.

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