Standing Order No. 21, a copy of which I enclose, directs that, on the issue of writs for the calling of a new Parliament, the Lord Chancellor shall in writing request every Lord to whom he issues a writ to answer whether or not he wishes to apply for leave of absence. Your Lordship is accordingly requested on the receipt of this letter to complete the enclosed form and return it to the Clerk of the Parliaments in the accompanying envelope.
Leave of absence may be applied for now either for the forthcoming Session or for the whole of the forthcoming Parliament. It will also be noted that the Standing Order provides that a Lord may apply for leave of absence at any time during a Parliament, either for the remainder of the Session in which the application is made, or for the remainder of the Parliament.
Your Lordship will further observe that the terms of the Standing Order indicate that Lords who have been granted Leave of Absence are expected not to attend the sittings of the House until their leave has expired or has sooner ended, except for the purpose of taking the Oath of Allegiance. It is open to any Lord who has obtained leave of absence to terminate it on giving at least one month's notice to the Clerk of the Parliaments; the House itself may terminate it at shorter notice.
It may be convenient to your Lordship it I quote the following passage from paragraph 4 of the Report of the Select Committee on Leave of Absence, which was approved by the House on 24th April 1958.
"The Committee have given much consideration to the question of whether there should be a closer definition of 'regular attendance'. The Committee considered that this was neither possible nor desirable. They recognise that this must be a matter for individual interpretation. But in framing the Standing Order the Committee have taken account of the position of Peers who are engaged whole-time in the professions and in industry and of others who have extensive commitments in local govern- ment or in other voluntary work. They realise that these are unable to devote more than a partial service to the House. They recall that such Peers have in the past made valuable contributions, based on their own knowledge and experience, to the work of the House in debates, in the revision of Bills and in Private Bill and other Select Committees. They believe that the House would be reluctant to lose the services of such Peers and that Peers in this position need not feel themselves under any obligation, in consequence of their inability to attend regularly, to apply for leave of absence."
I am. My Lord,
Your Lordship's Obedient Servant,
Several Lords—Took the Oath.
The Lord Birkett—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.
The Earl Howe—Sat first in Parliament after the death of his father.
The Lady Nairne—Sat first in Parliament pursuant to the Peerage Act, 1963.
Several Lords—Took the Oath.
House adjourned at six o'clock.