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              HPA NEWSLETTER                     

                         JOURNAL OF THE HEREDITARY PEERAGE ASSOCIATION

No.9                                                                                                                                                                                   1st September, 2011

My Lords,

Your Editor must first apologise that over a year and a half has passed since the publication of the last Newsletter and hence the Accounts to be approved at the AGM are those for both the year to 30th April, 2010 and the year to 30th April, 2011. The Editor suffered a cardiac problem while visiting New Zealand earliy this year, which prevented him from going to print before now.

We said in our editorial last year that the by-election process for the House of Lords had worked well and some former and some genuinely new hereditary blood now graced the benches. Since then, time has claimed a further four members of the hereditary ‘rump’, Lords Strabogli and Monson, Viscount Colville and the Earl of Northesk. In their places have been elected the Earls of Lytton and Clancarty, and Viscounts Younger of Leckie and Hanworth,

Nevertheless, the debate about reform of the House of Lords continues. The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, introduced proposals in May, of which the following are the principal elements:

The draft House of Lords Reform Bill would cut the membership of the Upper House from 789 to 300, of whom 80% would be elected by proportional representation via the single transferable vote system. Members would each be eligible for a single term of 15 years on a non-renewable mandate. The elected peers would be phased in though three tranches starting in 2015, with 100 peers elected on each occasion.

While the proposal had the apparent support of the Prime Minister and other Conservative members of the Government front bench, it is understood that the proposals were greeted with some scepticism in the Upper House. Lord Strathclyde expressed strong support for the reforms as he repeated Clegg's statement in the Lords, but then delighted Tory sceptics as he joked that he was no expert on proportional representation elections, adding that Clegg was "very keen" on the idea. The Leader of the House appeared to set himself at odds with Clegg by declining to say whether an elected chamber would be an improvement. "Would it make things better is a good philosophical question which is very hard to answer. I dare say some things might be better, some things might be worse," he said.

The principal point at issue is, as it always has been, whether an elected, or largely elected House of Lords, would challenge the primacy of the House of Commons. The present sitting peers generally seem to favour an appointed House (they would, wouldn’t they?) while the Commons and indeed the Government favour an elected body.

On the one hand, the perpetuation of a purely appointed House with appointees selected through the House of Lords Appointments Commission is likely to lead to a House composed of a few celebrities but mainly former civil servants and former members of the Commons considered ‘safe pairs of hands’. This is likely to make it overly conservative and reduce its effectiveness, perhaps to the point of irrelevance. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how an 80% or wholly elected House can avoid using its powers to the full.

Does it really matter if an elected Upper House challenges the primacy of the Commons? What would quickly become clear is that rules would have to be set down to govern the relationship between the two Houses, with the result that we must inevitably move closer to the day when Britain has a written constitution. The Parliament Act and the Salisbury Convention were never designed to fetter, nor would they be appropriate for, an elected second chamber.

My Lords, most members of the HPA are now sadly outside Westminster and may soon be joined by those hereditary peers still inside, putting a final full stop to a long chapter of British political and constitutional history. Whatever happens, it seems likely that the by-elections, by which at least some of us, or our heirs, can presently aspire to return to the House, will soon be just a part of that history.

CHALLENGE TO THE 1999 ACT

                  It is understood that Lord Mereworth’s legal challenge to reclaim his seat based upon the principle that his Letters Patent conferred his continued right to sit in the House of Lords, notwithstanding the passing of the 1999 Act, was dismissed by the courts. In similar vein, Lord Monckton of Brenchley has received a letter from the Clerk of the Parliaments forbidding him to claim that he is still a member of the House of Lords who has merely had his right to sit and to vote removed by the 1999 Act. It also points out that Lord Monckton, who succeeded to his peerage after 1999, never has been a member of the House of Lords.

  SUBSCRIPTIONS

                 It is proposed that the annual subscription  shall remain at £15 for the coming year. Members of the original Association of Hereditary Peers (AHP) who made founding subscriptions of £150 will not be charged an annual subscription until 2012.

Following the transfer of the Association’s bank account from C Hoare & Co. to  Lloyds TSB, new banker’s order forms were sent to members and it would be appreciated if those members who have not yet returned completed forms to the Association, would do so.

 

EMAIL AND HOME ADDRESSES

                  The Association is particularly keen to be able to communicate with its members by email. If you have received this Newsletter by post, it probably means that you have not supplied the Association with your email address. If you have an email address please send an email with your name (and postal address, if it has recently changed) to tt@byng.net and help us to bring our records up to date.

SOCIAL

            The Association continues to hold a regular lunch at 12.45 pm on the last Tuesday of most  months at the Boisdale Restaurant in Eccleston Street , London SWI. Attendance is open to all members who may bring a guest provided the guest is either another hereditary peer or heir to a peerage.  The Association also invites official guests from time to time. Members wishing to attend lunches may do so without prior notice but are requested if possible to call 07785 282436 a day or two beforehand indicating their intention to attend. The cost, including drinks remains about £35. There will not be a  September lunch this year. The lunch in November will be preceded by the AGM at 12.30pm (see below).

Details of intended official guests, if any, will be published on the Association’s website at www.hereditarypeers.com and your Lordships are welcome to suggest official guests whose attendance might be of general interest to members of the Association. Such guests are not obliged to make a speech but can expect to be ‘lightly grilled’ over lunch under Chatham House rules.

 

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

INCOME & EXENDITURE ACCOUNT

Years to 30th April, 2010 and 2011.  

                                       2011                    2010

                                          £                          £

Income
Subscriptions  1,005                         990
 Interest                   1                              5
 Other                       0                              0
                          -------                        -------
                              
         1,006                    995

Expenses
Entertainment        0                               0
 Administration     20                         20
 Bank Charges     150                           0
                          -------                       -------
                                         (170)                   (20)

           
-------                   -------
Surplus                             836                    975
                           
         =====                 =====

BALANCE SHEET

Years ended 30th April, 2010 and 2011.

                                           2011                     2010

                                                £                        £

Surplus Brought
  
               Forward         17,516              16,451
Surplus for year                  836                   975
                               
          --------              --------
Accumulated Surplus    18,352              17,516
                                          =====             =====

Represented by:

Cash at Bank                  18,442              17,586
Liabilities                          (90)                  (70)
                                         --------                --------
Members Funds             18,352              17,516
                                         =====               =====

             The surplus for 2011 was reduced by the imposition of bank charges of £60 per month by C. Hoare & Co., as a result of which, the Committee decided to move the Association’s account in April to Lloyds TSB Bank which offers free banking to small associations such as ours. The surplus was also reduced by the much lower interest rates available in 2010 and 2011 as compared to earlier years. The liability of £90 represents un-repaid expenses in respect  of the preparation of the last two newsletters.

             The present intention of the Association remains to accumulate funds to meet legal and other costs which may be incurred in challenging any diminution of peerage rights such as the right to attend a future coronation.

It is the intention that any event organised by the Association will be self-funding but HPA funds may be used to fund any small shortfalls between costs and event income.

  ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

 

The AGM of the Hereditary Peerage Association will be held on Tuesday, 22nd November, 2011 at 12.00 noon in the Jacobite Room at the Boisdale Restaurant, Eccleston Street , London SW1 for the purposes of:

      1. Considering and approving the Accounts for the years ended 30th April 2010 and 2011.

      2. Electing Committee members

      3. Discussing any matters members may wish      to raise

  The Meeting will be followed by the usual monthly lunch at 1pm, in which it is hoped all members attending the AGM will partake. Please let the Association know if you intend to attend the meeting by leaving a message on 07785 282436 a few days beforehand.

  GENERAL INFORMATION

 Joint Chairmen

Viscount Torrington               Lord Newall

  Committee

Viscount Torrington                Lord Newall
Lord Kilmaine                  Lord St Oswald
The Earl of Erroll      Viscount Trenchard
Lord Seaford                        Lord Glanusk

  Secretary

The Hon. Mrs Nicolson  

Address

1 Fairchild House
Charlwood Street
London SW1V 2LB

  Telephone:

07785282436

  Email Address

Secretary@hereditarypeers.com

 

Website:

www.hereditarypeers.com

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