House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL] Debate

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Department: Cabinet Office

House of Lords (Hereditary Peers) (Abolition of By-Elections) Bill [HL]

Lord Desai Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 3rd December 2021

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Desai Portrait Lord Desai (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, we are prisoners not only of the past 110 years but of what reform was promised during proceedings on the 1999 House of Lords Bill. I have a little information which will add to the confusion about which path to select and be bound by. The original proposal was that there would be one by-election and the runner-up would then be chosen for the next vacancy, so you have one election and then rank the candidates. You do not have further by-elections but select from the rankings of the also-rans. That was rejected and the sequential by-election procedure was chosen. So, there is nothing for us to substitute for that procedure, saying that next time, we will have one by-election and everybody can compete, and the replacement will be chosen from the queue of also-rans.

I have nothing against hereditary peers, even those elected through a by-election. But the absurdity is the very small electorates for Peers of parties other than the Conservative Party who have to be replaced.

I agree with my friend, the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, a parliamentarian whom I respect very much, in his attempts to remove this obstacle in our constitution. We should do whatever we can to remove the by-elections of hereditary Peers. Whatever parliamentary trick we can invent to defeat the Government’s reluctance to support this Bill should be welcomed. I wish the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, good luck on this occasion.