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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 3:16 pm ar 9 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol 3:16, 9 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, as I follow the noble Lord, Lord Lucas—who is a friend—I am struck, first, by how dull my peerage is compared to his. It really does not have anywhere near the same entertainment value. Everything I enjoy in history, the little quirks and side-plays, is personified there. His peerage has also provided the House with someone who has been a very good parliamentarian for many years, so I thank him for his words and for his contribution so far.

I am in almost total agreement regarding the Bill. I must declare an interest, in that I have only the one child, a daughter. If you are going to make this change to make things equal, it should be the oldest child. There cannot be any real disagreement about that. If you think it is important, that is what you do.

The by-elections are always in the background: they are the elephant in the room—except that this elephant is now trumpeting quite loudly. If we had this, we might actually get, for however random the peerage is, women standing. That would slightly strengthen a very weak case for keeping this going.

I am always struck by the fact that there are not many temporary deals whose silver anniversaries can be celebrated very rapidly. Are we going for gold on this one? I am not sure, but let us remember that just in case.

The recreation of extinct peerages—fine, but I am not sure it adds very much to the strength of the nation, or anything else. However, if we are going to do this, we should follow the example of the Royal Family. The oldest child is the only way you can really make this equal going forward. It could be interpreted as an attempt at a small step forward, but it is out of date and out of time. Thirty years ago, yes; but not now.

I have another interest to declare: I looked it up and, going back six generations, the first Lord Addington had an oldest child who was a girl. So in my case, we can go back six generations of privilege. If we are going to effect the basic principle that women should have the same status as men, then it must be the oldest child. Baronetcies are possibly not as pressing, but I do not see why they should not be included. If we are going to do this, it has to be based on that principle. We have to make sure we embody it. Would it do any good? A little. Would it do any harm? None. I hope that we will bring the Bill forward in those terms.

Committee will be very interesting. I admit that I did not pick up on this on first reading the Bill, but Clause 1(4) does not stand up to the modern world. Bring the Bill forward, have a look at it and I am afraid the pen should go through quite a lot of it. The only part that has any merit is Clause 1(1).