All 1 Debates between Baroness Flather and Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

Succession to Peerages Bill [HL]

Debate between Baroness Flather and Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
Friday 11th September 2015

(8 years, 9 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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What we are discussing is whether as a House we want to continue with titles and the privilege and status—I think respectability has been mentioned—and whether that is a priority. Surely, if we are to do anything, the priority is to do something about the peerages in this House. That is something my party would like to do by removing by-elections for hereditary Members.

We want women, whether in this House or with the other titles they may earn, to get them by their own ability. The examples are the women who serve in this House. They may get damehoods before they get here. We would not want those to be inherited, I assume, because the awarding of a title is about what they have done for themselves. The point I am trying to make—perhaps ineffectively—is that surely the priority is for more women, whether in this House or with other titles such as dame, to receive them by virtue of what they have done for themselves. The examples I want to give are the people who have got peerages here on their own abilities rather than the abilities of some male forebear.

The noble Baroness, Lady Grey-Thompson, was a dame before she came here. She did not get that because her father was a great athlete. She got it because she had won 16 Paralympic medals, 30 world titles and the London Marathon six times; she chairs the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation; and she was BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year. The noble Baroness, Lady Benjamin, is an actress and television presenter, and chancellor of the University of Exeter. The noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, is past president of the Royal Society of Medicine and a consultant professor of palliative medicine. These are women who have gained their titles—which happened to bring them here; some of them had damehoods before—because of what they did. Those are the examples I want to give.

There are, of course, people such as the noble Baroness, Lady Harding of Winscombe, the chief executive of TalkTalk and named as one of the 10 most influential women. She happens to be the daughter and granddaughter of Peers, but has her title because of what she has done in her own right.

Baroness Flather Portrait Baroness Flather
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My Lords—

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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Could I just finish with this example? I am arguing that the Bill seems to be based on the continued assumption that women should not gain a title—recognition—because of what they have done but because of what a father, grandfather or great-uncle did. I give way to the noble Baroness.