Hereditary Peers By-election - Announcement

– in the House of Lords at 3:39 pm on 15th November 2021.

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The Clerk of the Parliaments announced the result of the by-election to elect a hereditary Peer in place of Viscount Simon.

Two hundred and sixty-four Lords submitted valid ballot papers. A notice detailing the complete results is available in the Printed Paper Office and online. The successful candidate was Lord Hacking.

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

I am grateful to our Clerk for acting as returning officer and giving us the result of another dramatic by-election. Normally, when by-election results are passed on, the resulting great excitement and drama are watched by the national media, but I have noticed that throughout this by-election process the House has remained calm, and that is to be commended.

One of the numerous reasons why there is no further interest in the by-election once the name of the winner has been announced is that in normal by-elections—if I can refer to them as such—the returning officer, in a scene familiar to all of us, not only announces which individual has won the by-election but goes on to announce the figures for all the other candidates too, whereas in our unique system we learn who the winner is but if we want to find out any more, such as how many votes our candidate attained, you are referred to the Printed Paper Office. I do not think it would work in by-elections as they normally apply if the returning officer announced who had won and then said, “If you want to know who got how many votes, you need to go to the council offices tomorrow morning where a paper will be issued with the details.”

I suggest that we add a bit more detail to these announcements. Why not give the individual results for the candidates, the number of spoilt ballot papers and details of that sort, and maybe allow two or three minutes for the victorious candidate to make a short speech thanking—

Photo of Lord Tomlinson Lord Tomlinson Labour

Thanking the returning officer!

Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour

Yes—thanking the returning officer and commiserating with the other candidates. I think that would enhance the by-elections and our understanding of them. Maybe, if we really wanted to analyse their significance, perhaps a room could be set aside where an analysis of the result could be presented by Professor Sir John Curtice, who is an expert in these things.

The House may know that I am not a fan of these by-elections, so maybe we should have a bit of sunshine on the results in future. This would aid public interest in them and I am sure that supporters of these by-elections—there are a few left—would like to see a bit more detail presented. I think this is something that the Procedure Committee should consider.