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Accession To Peerage (Written Questions)

Volume 42: debated on Friday 25 October 1912

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I wish to direct your attention to what is, I think, an irregularity in to-day's Votes and Proceedings—a small point, no doubt, but it raises a question of principle. I must apologise for not giving you the ordinary notice of such a thing, because I had only seen it a few moments ago. What has occurred is this. Yesterday in the questions put down for oral answer and in the limit of questions which were asked, there appeared two questions in the name of Mr. William Peel, who now, owing to the death of his distinguished father, is no longer with us. These two questions you passed over, not even mentioning Mr. Peel's name, as was in distinct accordance with practice. In ordinary cases if a Gentleman were absent his name would be called out and then some Gentleman would have asked the question for him. That was your ruling, and I understand it is distinctly in accordance with Parliamentary practice, because if there is one thing certain it is that the instant a man becomes a Peer by inheritance, he ceases absolutely to be a Member of this House. I see in the Votes and Proceedings to-day the two questions that you passed over have been put down and answered. It will be a very invidious thing that nobody would dream of doing to ask for these questions to be deleted, but what I want to establish, and I should be glad to have an expression of your view, is that once a Gentleman becomes a Peer, as established in the case of Lord Selborne in 1895, who contested it, he ceases to have anything whatever to do with the House of Commons. I should be very sorry that these questions should be deleted, but at the same time I think such an instance as this, however trivial, having regard to the relations between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, should not by any ingenuity be drawn into a precedent. I thank you for allowing me to put the point.

It is quite true that when I saw the name of Mr. William Peel on the questions yesterday I passed it over, as he had ceased to be a Member of the House. These answers were evidently handed in by the Postmaster-General or his private secretary by inadvertence.