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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:17 am on 13th March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Snape Lord Snape Labour 11:17 am, 13th March 2020

My Lords, I join in the congratulations on my noble friend Lord Grocott. Remarkably, he has struck lucky; this is the third time the House has debated this Bill. I do not know whether he participates in the National Lottery but, given his luck, I would like to share the stake money with him. If we won £67 million, we might not have to sit through too many debates like this morning’s.

The Bill is not about hereditary Peers or getting rid of them. Why would we seek to deprive ourselves of the oratory of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, the prejudices of the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, or indeed the connections of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness? They will still be here if this Bill is passed, and why not? The Bill is about the English class system. Whether the hereditaries express the view publicly or not, they think that, because they are here as a result of the active loins of their forefathers, they are somehow better than those of us who have come from the other end of the building.

The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, has frequently said in this debate that he deplores the behaviour of those noble Lords who have spent some time in the other place. Indeed, when the Bill was debated on 8 September 2017, the noble Lord made his distaste for former Members of the other place quite plain. He said:

“There is nothing wrong with Members of Parliament individually”.

I am not sure whether I fall into the “nothing wrong” category, but I will plough on, and that

“I even have a few friends who were MPs”—

I certainly do not fall into that category, regrettably—

“and they are certainly suited to the House of Commons. However, in your Lordships’ House, and in too great a number, they are an absolute menace: first, because, by their very nature, they want to do things and change things when they would be far better employed just paying attention.”—[Official Report, 8/9/17; col. 2171.]

Well I paid attention to him this morning, of course.