My Lords, I support this amendment and Amendment 23, having said before in your Lordships’ House that I endorse the whole House voting on hereditaries while the Burns report is being implemented and comprehensive reform is being put in place.
I am disappointed to see that the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, is not in her place. I much enjoyed her comment about looking down the rabbit hole as wee Alice. My election by the whole House as a hereditary Peer was greeted by a broadsheet with reference to a Blackadder election. The producer of Blackadder is responsible for another programme—“The Museum of Curiosity”—the title of which I was hoping another broadsheet would have entertained us with, with reference to hereditaries.
It may interest your Lordships to know that yesterday I was on the roof outside the stained glass windows up there, looking at the work that had been done on the stained glass and all the leading, and as I looked in, I felt there was a certain parallel. I looked into the Chamber and could see absolutely nothing at all; we look out from this Chamber and can see daylight and lovely colour, and think that the work we do here is fully understood by the public at large. In fact, they are on the outside, looking in, and can see very little. They do not understand what it is we do, and in particular what hereditaries do.
Hereditaries are not apparatchiks of any particular political hue, whether Fabian Society or Bow Group. We are what the poet Matthew Arnold praised as being “formed men, not crammed men”, formed by the independence of our own thoughts and experience, random, without any party tribalism or essence of our own political importance. When I look at fellow hereditaries across all the Benches, I see Olympic gold medallists, journalists, film and documentary makers, doctors, dentists, the self-employed, owners and managers of SMEs, pilots, specialists in insurance, banking, shipping and property, linguists of all descriptions, married to different nationalities—