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Hereditary Peers By-election

Volume 796: debated on Wednesday 27 March 2019


The Clerk of the Parliaments announced the result of the by-election to elect a Cross-Bench hereditary Peer, in place of Viscount Slim, in accordance with Standing Order 10.

Twenty-eight Lords completed valid ballot papers. A notice detailing the results is available in the Printed Paper Office and online. The successful candidate was Lord Ravensdale.

My Lords, as if we had not had enough excitement this week, the drama of a hereditary Peers by-election simply adds to it all. I must make plain, as I always try to do on these occasions, that I make no criticism whatever of the successful candidate, who I am sure will be welcomed just as all new entrants to this House are welcomed.

It is a pity that this was not on the Order Paper today, as I thought that had been agreed. It went up on the annunciator, but we should not secrete these events —we want notice of them. It is a pity that these elections are not more like traditional by-elections, and that we do not allow the candidates—both successful and unsuccessful—to say a few words after the result is declared and thank the returning officer.

To add to the minimalist report made by the Clerk, one or two facts are worth putting on the record about this by-election. There were 14 candidates, as we have heard. It was a men-only shortlist. The electorate totalled 28—that is, two electors for each candidate. The cost of the by-election was £600 including VAT; I make that about £21 per vote cast.

This was the 37th by-election since the system was started at the time of the House of Lords Act 20 years ago. If my Bill had not been blocked by four Peers on Friday, this by-election would, thankfully, have been the last. The sooner that it is made the last one, the better. I hope that the Government will take note of the overwhelming view in this House that these ridiculous by-elections should finish.