Succession to Peerages and Baronetcies Bill [HL] - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 3:13 pm ar 9 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Lucas Lord Lucas Ceidwadwyr 3:13, 9 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lord Northbrook on bringing forward this Bill. He is right to say that I am unaffected by it, as I have a Scottish title, which in connection with the previous debate, was granted by James I to his first boyfriend, who then married—fortunately. I have an English title, the barony of Lucas, which was procured by Margaret Cavendish, in honour of her brother, in favour of her niece. Margaret Cavendish was a great feminist, and has been in print with her feminist writings for 350 years—and indeed has another book out about her this year, called Pure Wit, by Francesca Peacock, which I recommend. I share the vision that she fought for—that women are equal with men in every respect—and I would very much like to see that applied to peerage inheritance.

To pick up on what my noble friends Lady Noakes and Lord Astor said, I entirely agree that the Bill should be changed so that women are properly equal to men. I do not agree that it should include the revival of extinct titles; beyond anything else, that would enable me to claim the title of Duke of Kent, which might be inconvenient for certain other people.

To answer another of the questions from my noble friend Lady Noakes, Parliament is the only way the last bit of preference for men can be changed; there is no other route available. I do not see any reason for it to be left lying around, particularly given that, as my noble friend Lord Astor said, the monarchy has made the necessary change itself. We should follow its good example.

This is a good opportunity for the Government to make the change. Every time we have tried in the past, the principal objection has been that if we have a Private Member’s Bill, they will mess around with it at the other end to try produce a much more wide-ranging change. We now know, courtesy of the Leader of the Opposition, that they would not do that. There is no such danger at the moment, so this is an opportunity to right a small but tiresome wrong and I very much hope the Government will take it.