The House

Lord Grocott brings back bill to scrap hereditary peers

- By Georgina Bailey

Labour peer Lord Grocott’s Private Member’s Bill (PMB) to end by-elections for hereditary peers in the House of Lords will receive its second reading on 3 December.

The peer has previously attempted similar bills in 2016, 2018, and 2020, all of which were filibuster­ed or blocked by a small number of hereditary peers. Labour MP John Spellar has introduced the same PMB in the House of Commons, with second reading scheduled for 10 December.

Grocott said: “The arguments [for reform] get stronger every year. When I first introduced the bill there were four women among the 90 hereditary peers, but there are now none.”

“That in 2021, a system exists of 90 reserved places for hereditary peers that whenever one of them dies or retires they’re replaced in by-elections in which only hereditary peers can stand and, for the most part, only hereditary peers can vote… is absurd.”

There have been seven hereditary peer by-elections this year, with six delayed from 2020.

The retirement of the Countess of Mar last year means that there are no women hereditary peers among the 92 who currently sit on the red benches. Supporters of hereditary peerages argue it is the only part of the House with any elections at all.

The number of hereditary peers was cut from 750 to 92 (with two reserved for royal appointmen­ts) in the 1999 House of Lords Act.

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